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Success in Ethiopia

Ethiopia-story-17.jpgToday is Friday, and I’ve spent the last three days in Addis Ababa since arriving in Ethiopia. Today we drove several hours to Jarso District to visit the Abo Yayebena Kebele, one of the villages that CPAR worked in.  After working with the community and government extension worker to set up a Farmers Field School (FFS) in the village, helping them establish a grain co-op, and providing other interventions, CPAR’s work was done and we had left the village, but we wanted to see how they were doing since we were gone. 

I was travelling with Aklilu Tafa, our Ethiopia Country Manager, Dr. Miruk Asseffa, CPAR Ethiopia’s new Program Officer, and Rhona Rahmani, a Humber International Development Institute student who is interning with CPAR thanks to funding from DFATD through the International Youth Internship Program.

Because of the way CPAR designs and implements our programs we had expected that the FFS would still be active and productive, but the progress and innovation that this group continued to make on its own was inspirational. Even government officials who follow up with the group are impressed by the FFS group, unlike so many other programs they see that lose momentum.

Lemma Gemeda, the chairperson of the Abo Yayebena Kebele Farmers Field School greeted us and gave us an update on the group’s progress since its inception. Ato Gemada’s leadership and sense of humour set the tone for the vibrant discussions we were able to have with individual members that day. The warehouse was empty the day we came, the group had just sent out their produce to the market the day before we got there.

CPAR had established a grain co-op but now the group has expanded its outside of just grain. What does the co-op do?  The farmers are able to sell their produce to their own co-op, meaning they don’t have to travel long distances to the market. And the co-op is able to get better prices at the market because they are selling a larger (combined) quantity.

In the picture above, Ato Gemeda is with Urgi Gowe, who used to be the development agent working with the Farmers Field School, and is now a Supervisor in the area. I wish that the sign was more clearly visible.  Ato Gemada had made it before we came, and pulled it out with great flourish and pleasure just before I took the photo.  It says “Long Life for CPAR”.  CPAR is very well known in this area, and the genuine trust and affection with which community members and government workers view us was evident in all the interactions we had. Stay tuned as I continue to introduce you to more of the people I meet on my travels.

Dusanka Pavlica
Executive Director, CPAR