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Market-led Livelihood Recovery and Enhancement Programme and integrating ENAs

By Andrew Simons, Daniel Gebeyehu, Getachew Gemtesa and Markos Kidane

Andrew Simons is the National Programme Director for Food for the Hungry (FH) Ethiopia. He holds an M.P.A. in International Development and has worked in various development programmes in countries ranging from El Salvador, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Dominican Republic and Honduras.

Daniel Gebeyehu is Director of the Emergency Relief Department for FH Ethiopia. He has a MSc in Remote Sensing and GIS and a BSc in Forestry from Alemaya University of Agriculture in Ethiopia. He has been with FH Ethiopia for five years.

Getachew Gemtesa is Agricultural Marketing and Livelihoods Coordinator with FH Ethiopia. Getachew has a BSc degree in plant sciences from Alemaya University and is currently pursuing his postgraduate studies from IGNOU in Rural Developments.

Markos Kidane is Public Relations Officer with FH and is involved in hosting teams from the US to project sites and writing success stories of FH interventions.

The authors would like to thank USAID's Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance for their generous funding of the MLREP programme.

Food for the Hungry Ethiopia (FHE) began working in Ethiopia in 1984 through aid efforts in response to the famine at that time. In the beginning, FHE operated through partner organisations, delivering emergency food aid to those affected by the famine. The recurrence of famine ten years later motivated FHE to become an operational non-governmental organisation (NGO), directly implementing relief and rehabilitation programmes in the country. Since that time, FHE has grown tremendously and has taken further measures to address the root causes of poverty through tackling issues related to sustainable development.

FHE implements various types of projects in four regional states in Ethiopia: Oromia, Amhara, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR) and Benishangul Gumuz. The projects include:

Food Security: FHE implements relief interventions to soften the impact of drought in chronically food insecure woredas in Amhara and the SNNPR.

Agriculture & Environment: This includes training in agronomic practices, micro-irrigation, animal health, fruit and coffee production, environmental protection and natural resource management.

Child Development & Education: Social development, child health, education support programme and income generating activities. This programme is geared to improve the lives of children, mostly orphans.

Health & Nutrition: Micronutrient interventions, nutritional supplementation, dietary diversification and disease control training.

Water & Sanitation: Building of hand-dug and shallow wells, springs, roof catchments, potable water supply schemes, cattle troughs, latrines, and hygiene promotion.

HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness education.

The Market-led Livelihood Recovery and Enhancement Programme (MLREP)

A farmer plows his field with the traditional yoke and pair of cattle

The MLREP, funded by USAID-OFDA1, was launched in March 2009 and is a three year programme. The MLREP aims to improve the food and livelihood security status of smallholder households in the three target districts (woredas) in SNNPR. The project covers 33 kebeles (village associations) in the three districts. The primary target beneficiaries of the project are the acute and chronically food insecure households (HH) in the target districts. To ensure the targeted beneficiaries will be able to realise food self sufficiency and produce surplus products for the unmet market demand, the project has integrated various livelihood components that arose following the results of a Value Chain Analysis (VCA) study (see below for more information). All interventions have been planned based on the needs and potential of the target communities. Targeting criteria developed by FHE and the government District Office of Agriculture (DOA) are used by local leaders to select beneficiaries. The programme targets HHs who normally produce grain for food and sell any surplus as their sole source of revenue. These HHs have been forced to purchase grain at unprecedented costs arising from the Global Food Price Crisis (2008-2009), during which food prices in Ethiopia escalated significantly.

MLREP components

Relief element: Cash For Work (CFW)

This component aims to provide temporary employment and thus income to chronically food insecure HHs and, at the same time, create productive community assets through their labour contribution. FHE undertakes nursery operations and the construction of ponds for livestock through CFW as a temporary employment scheme. The majority of the nursery workers are women who have suffered from the drought and food price crisis.

Micro-credit provision

All agricultural inputs and equipment are delivered to farmer groups on a credit basis through the Omo-Micro Finance Institution (OMFI). The beneficiaries are organised initially into producer and marketing groups, and should eventually grow into cooperatives by the second and final years of the programme cycle. The proposed programme's agricultural inputs will be distributed on a loan basis. This differs from the usual OMFI operating procedure where cash is normally disbursed to a beneficiary for a loan. In this programme, however, the input (beehive, water pump, etc.) is delivered directly to the beneficiary and then OMFI recovers the loan value of the agricultural input over time.


FHE intends to increase livestock productivity through introducing higher yielding local breeds, improving livestock husbandry practices, promotion of dairy farming and improved forage production. Further, it will work to strengthen the market link for livestock producers, so that they are able to generate better income from their production. The seed subsector focuses on seed provision of marketable and high yield improved varieties, aiming at increasing and diversifying incomes and livelihoods of the affected farming HHs.


Small scale irrigation is promoted through hand dug well construction and delivery of motorised pumps. The programme supplies locally available materials and skilled labour during well construction and provides water lifting pumps based on the depth of the well through a microcredit system arranged with OMFI.

Value chain analysis (VCA)

VCA is useful for producers who are trying to integrate into markets in a manner which would provide for sustainable income growth. VCA provides the answer to the question, 'which commodity should be pushed further in terms of ease of access to input and output markets?' Four crops/commodities were identified based upon on these 'ease of access' criteria:

Honey was strategically selected as the value chain to be implemented because of potential for income gains and the central role of bees in improving and enhancing overall food security through pollination of food crops. Additionally, forage seedlings that flowered were selected to be grown in the CFW nurseries, to link with those beneficiaries who would be focusing on the honey value chain.

Potato is among the most efficient commodities for converting natural resources, labour and capital into a high quality food. Because of its short maturity period (improved variety), it is very strategic at mitigating food crisis in disaster situations and offers better opportunities to grow more quantities of food on less land in relatively short growing periods.

Haricot beans are 'number one' both in terms of volume of export and revenue generated among all pulses grown in Ethiopia. The high nutrition value of the crop is also encouraging the programme to promote mass production in the programming areas.

Pepper is known as a cash crop and promoting its increased productivity enables an increment in household income level. This type of pepper is dried and ground and makes the base ingredient of common food spices (called berbere) found in almost all Ethiopian cuisine.

Improved beehives, which produces significantly more honey that a traditional hive

Cash crops analysis

The VCA has pointed out marketable commodities that can be produced with high potential through provision of necessary service supports along the value chain. FHE has a crucial role to stimulate the support system in the target woredas to improve the productivity and marketing of the commodities by assisting farmers to adopt best agronomic, processing and marketing practices.


The MLREP programme is not a standalone initiative, but rather dovetails with the Government of Ethiopia's (GoE) led Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) programme. The MLREP programme targets PSNP beneficiaries to help them build assets and graduate from the PSNP programme.

FHE coordinates, shares information and collaborates closely with many actors in the programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of activities. At the field level, FHE works with the DOA to implement the different activities planned in this sector. The officers provide technical assistance in the selection of sites and beneficiaries, identification and sourcing of appropriate inputs, the training of beneficiaries, etc. FHE is represented on each targeted District's Food Security Task Force and ensures the programme is integrated with the development plans of the GoE and other NGOs. The research centre in the region acts as a source of technologies, information and knowledge by providing trainers, improved varieties of agricultural inputs and improved agricultural practices. The private seed suppliers serve as reliable sources of improved seed varieties.

The programme has a strong coordination focus with other projects and this provides FHE with the opportunity to share experiences and research outputs that can be applied in other areas.

The Care Group Model for integrating Essential Nutrition Actions (ENAs)

After the completion of the first year of the MLREP, initial benefits were seen at the HH level as far as some income generation/asset creation. However, there was no obvious evidence that this increased income was being put to use to improve the nutrition and health outcomes of the most vulnerable members of the family. Therefore, it was decided to modify the second and third year plan to include a nutrition education component (which will take effect in early 2011). The design is based on the successful integration of a similar nutrition component into the PSNP being implemented by FHE in the South Gondar woredas of Amhara Region called the Care-Group Model.

The programme will use volunteers to disseminate nutrition and hygiene related messages to MLREP targeted beneficiary mothers. Community volunteers, selected by Health Extension Workers (HEW) and kebele officials, will be trained on Essential Nutrition Actions (ENA) (optimal breastfeeding, complementary feeding, feeding of the sick child, women's nutrition, control of Vitamin A deficiency, and control of anaemia and iodine deficiency disorders) and Essential Hygiene Actions (EHA). The HEWs will take the lead and FHE will provide educational materials and facilitate the training.

The Care-Group Model approach focuses on mothers of reproductive age who are beneficiaries of food aid (parallel PSNP or relief programmes) and MLREP activities. Mothers will be divided into groups of ten to fourteen and each of these groups will elect one 'leader mother' who will be responsible for leading discussions in the group under the guidance of the volunteer promoter. The promoters meet with the lead mothers every two weeks for about two hours. Religious and community leaders can also serve as co-promoters.

During Care-Group meetings, promoters will teach lead mothers by using flip charts (developed in other FHE programmes) for a total of 20 sessions. Similarly, lead mothers will discuss the same topic with mothers in their group. After completion of the session, the groups will continue the meeting and will discuss other health and social related issues. The cycle of all lessons should take approximately ten months. Establishing mother to mother meetings should help mothers learn the ENAs and discuss issues together to help bring about the desired behaviour change which can improve the nutrition and health outcomes of the children in the community.

Outcome indicators

The following outcome indicators will be measured:

In order to measure impact, household food consumption patterns and hygiene practices will be recorded through interview before the nutrition component is launched. Comparisons in behaviour of the households can be made when a follow up survey is completed after the programme has run for a year. Regular mini- KPC (knowledge, practice, and coverage) surveys to ascertain any improvements will also be undertaken.

An example of vertical farming in a FH Project

Raising awareness during public gatherings

FHE volunteers will also educate the MLREP beneficiaries at MLREP temporary employment sites (nursery and cattle ponds) and food aid commodity distribution sites (part of a different relief programme) though mass education. The education will mainly focus on the ENA messages and the EHAs will focus on hand washing at appropriate times using soap or ash, creation of hand washing stations at the household and other community settings (e.g. marketplaces), proper disposal of faeces, and effective point-of-use drinking water treatment in households. FHE will arrange 20 minute session for education before distribution and any kind of public work, like nurseries management, pond constructions and others. Community volunteers as well as social workers in the organisation will give the education in collaboration with HEWs.

Lessons and opportunities

FHE has found that even the most food insecure households are able to participate in the micro-credit scheme established. The key is to provide these households with an appropriate loan based on their needs and capabilities to make payments in the long-run. One key element involved with this has been for FHE to serve as a 'middle man' to negotiate better terms for the farmers with the OMFI. For example, FHE has helped to lengthen the time required to pay back loans for certain agricultural based loans that better coincide with the agricultural production seasons. Proper training and other supplementary inputs are also necessary for the successful implementation of the micro-credit scheme.

Additionally, FHE has helped significantly by 'pushing' OMFI into rural kebeles. As transaction costs to OMFI are high for smaller loan amounts, support in capacity building - such as motorcycles for the OMFI regional field offices - has lowered the costs for OMFI to do business with the most poor. This has lowered a barrier for OMFI to help improve the access to these credit services for rural vulnerable households, making it more likely they will travel to the rural areas to look for loan customers.

Supplying a packaged approach is an effective way to reach desired results in as the complementary inputs provide a larger impact than providing single inputs. For example, providing bee fodder to beneficiaries, in addition to the access to the microfinance loan for the beehive, will allow their ultimate honey production to be higher, making a better chance for successful repayment of the loan.

For further information, contact: Andrew Simons, email:

Show footnotes

1US Agency for International Development-Office for Disaster Assistance

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Reference this page

Andrew Simons, Daniel Gebeyehu, Getachew Gemtesa and Markos Kidane (). Market-led Livelihood Recovery and Enhancement Programme and integrating ENAs. Field Exchange 40, February 2011. p56.



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