Ethiopia Graduation Pilot Underway
A few months ago my colleague Aude de Montesquiou wrote on the launch of the Ethiopia Graduation Pilot. We were both in Mekelle in the North of Ethiopia with the Relief Society of Tigray (REST) last week, where the pilot has just got underway. Tigray has a population of over 4.3 million people of which 80% reside in rural areas. The region is characterized by endemic food insecurity and an estimated 90% of the population earns less than two dollars a day.
The 500 participants in this graduation pilot have been selected in 10 communities that are particularly poor, ecologically diverse (both dry and dry-wet zones) and relatively accessible for REST staff. Participants in the program have been selected based on their food insecurity, their vulnerability to shocks, their household’s irregular income, landlessness and the fact that they own no large livestock such as oxen.
Building on the recommendations from the market analysis conducted last year combined with REST’s experience, participants have been encouraged to choose among the following livelihood options: sheep and goats, cattle fattening, honey production, petty trade, and an “open” option. All have already been trained in these activities and the asset transfers have just started.
The government public works stipend (15kg of grain or 150 birr per household member) will provide five months’ of in-kind support and one month of cash support paid out over the seasonal lean period—this is when participants particularly need the extra “breathing space” provided by the support. Savings are mandatory, and 80% of participants have already opened individual savings accounts at Debit Credit & Savings Institute.
On the research side, Innovations for Poverty Action has already completed the baseline survey with the participants and 500 randomly-selected control households. BRAC Development Institute has started its first round of in-depth interviews to understand the process of change in participant’s lives.
It is interesting to note the graduation approach in Ethiopia. The factors such ‘support for extra breathing space’ and mandatory savings are positive features facilitating for smooth graduation. However when the livelihood options mostly livestock based income generating activity are highly susceptible to epidemic diseases besides human micro insurance has also a vital role in facilitating sustainable graduation.