June 2016

Our oldest program is evolving - how and why?

The face of Hope for Children’s oldest program – Child, Youth and Community Enrichment (CYC) – is evolving. Born over a decade ago from the need to provide severely impoverished HIV affected families in the Gulele area of Addis Ababa with support, the program now supports 400 families with monthly food payments to encourage children to attend school. As well as cash payments for food, children have access to an after school youth centre, health screening and psychosocial services.

The delivery of aid in Ethiopia has shifted in the last ten years, and cash handout support is seen as not only a dated way to empower a community, but the fastest way to encourage dependency too. HFC has recognised the need to shift the way we provide services to better vest in the potential of our target communities.

In March 2016, the Livelihood Empowerment program began under CYC. HFC has begun working with 133 of the most vulnerable women in the program, all of whom are parents of children in the program.

The objective of the Livelihood Empowerment program is to use a participatory, or community lead approach, whereby women are formed into small groups to encourage savings so they can take revolving loans from their community group, instead of relying on cash handouts from HFC.

Of the 133 men and women, 73 have been formed into self help groups of between 10 – 15 persons, and contribute between 6 – 12 birr (50 – 80 cents) per week. These women have been provided training on the self help group concept, how to record savings in a shared book, why savings as a group is powerful, and coming up with some basic rules or ‘bylaws’ which all members must abide by.

"In the past 20 years, I’ve been amazed at how the poorest communities in Ethiopia can find innovative solutions to their problems. Asking the community to come together to find a path forward as a collective group, is the single most powerful way to break to cycle of dependency." - Jacqui Gilmour, Founder of Hope for Children 

"By providing the community with tools for how to improve their future, we are giving them the power to draw the roadmap for their future." - Tseganeh Amsalu, Country Representative

A further 40 men and women have been grouped together to receive basic business skill training, with the purpose of the women forming small groups to come up with business plans on income generating activities. For example, buying potatoes and selling chips at a roadside stall, or contributing money to buy an injera stove to sell injera to local offices or restaurants.

The remaining 20 of the 133 women will receive vocational training, up skilling them in the areas of (most likely, but still TBC) tailoring, food preparation and gypsum (interior finishing). The team at HFC are currently conducting a market needs assessment to work out which of these sectors in the local area has a demand for skilled practitioners. (For example, there is no point in training 20 women in tailoring if there is a saturation of local sewing shops in the community.)

All women meet in their respective groups once a week, either on Saturday or Sunday. They have met strict entry criteria including being over the age of 35, currently unemployed, living within the target community area, parents of children in the program and having a combined family income of less than 1500birr ($100) per month for each child.

SHG training

The role of community savings: participants attend a series of trainings on the self help group conceptand learning the principles of basic business skill training. 

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Registration Day: Program Coordinator, Fiker, introduces the program, and registers the names of participants.

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Keeping Track: Livelihood Officer Andualem takes notes during the training session for women in Self Help Groups.

For more information please contact Jessica Watts at info@hopeforchildren.org.au