building the resilience of women through small ruminant fattening business

Kidist Ayenachew, a 34 year old mother of 4 children, is one of BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University cluster beneficiaries in Wadila Woreda, Hamusit Kebele. She was one of the 16 women selected to participate in small scale small ruminant fattening business project in October 2019.

Prior to the project Kidist made her livelihood mainly as a casual laborer and by harvesting wheat and other cereals from her parents’ small plot of land. But the income she earned was not enough to meet the basic needs of her family.

Remembering her life before the project, Kidist said, “As a landless, unskilled and economically vulnerable woman, it was difficult to raise 4 children on my own. I did not have the capacity to participate in community events and was looked down by my neighbors. I was always struggling searching for mechanisms to improve my life.”

The project provided 16 women each with 5 male sheep & two months concentrate/feed through the credit system via RUSACCOs (a rural saving and credit cooperative) and one-day skill training on small ruminant fattening techniques. The amount of loan Kidist borrowed was 8,250.00 birr to be paid back within two years in four phases (every 6 months). The money was directly used to buy 5 local breed male sheep for fattening purposes. In addition, Kidist received continuous technical & moral support by the project staff and kebele livestock experts that highly contributed to the success achieved.  

In the last three operation cycles (9 months), Kidist earned a net profit of 16,650.00B birr. She already repaid half of the loan which is 4,125.00 birr to the RUSACCOs. After covering fattening operational costs and expenses related to family food, clothing, medication, school materials for her 3 children and loan repayment as of September 2020, she has more than 3000.00 birr in her savings account. Kidist also bought house utensils, chairs and kitchen cabinets with 4,570.00 birr.  

She explained, “Since the project, my life has improved dramatically. We used to eat twice a day, now, not only do we eat three times a day but our diet has diversified. During holidays, 3 to 4 times a year, we slaughter one of our sheep for meat. I am not afraid of bad times to come since I have enough saved to recover, if needed. And each and every progress, success and stepping-up you see happened because of the fattening business I started. I plan to increase the number of small ruminants for fattening from 5 sheep to at least 10 to 12 in the coming 3 to 4 months, assuming that my net monthly income will increase to at least 5000 birr and above.” With a smile she added, “I want everyone to know that women can indeed perform well and improve their livelihood, if given the opportunity.”

From the success of Kidist Ayenachew and the others who participated in the same business, we can see that small-scale small ruminant fattening is an ideal business that requires small initial investment and can build the resilience of disadvantaged women. Full involvement of beneficiaries in terms of business idea generation, labor, material and financial contribution, skill of business management and regular technical follow-up by experts (when necessary), is crucial to ensure sustainable success.  

The ‘Realising Sustainable Agricultural Livelihood Security in Ethiopia’ (REALISE) programme is established in 2018 with the aims to contribute to sustainable livelihoods through the introduction of improved farming practices, innovations and social experiments to strengthen the current Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia.

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