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Gebru Kahsay inspects his teff field with his grandson. Supporting farmers is a major part of Oxfam’s work in Ethiopia. (Photo: Eva-Lotta Jansson/Oxfam America) 

Oxfam in Ethiopia

Since 1971, Oxfam has been operating in Ethiopia to bring lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. Oxfam focuses on sustainable livelihoods, water and sanitation, agriculture, climate research, gender and humanitarian issues. It works together with the government, United Nations, civil society organisations, private sector and communities in all regional states of Ethiopia. Oxfam Hong Kong supports Oxfam in Ethiopia’s disaster relief and emergency programmes.

A buzzing business

With the rest of my profit, I have bought an ox, two sheep and one proper bed [we used to sleep in a traditional bed made on the floor with mud].’

The majority of Ethiopia’s population (85 per cent) relies on rainfed agriculture. With climate change hitting the country hard though, rain has become unpredictable, which has greatly affected countless people’s livelihoods.

Seeing great opportunity in beekeeping as an alternative and sustainable livelihood, Oxfam and its partners have been implementing a five-year honey value chain development project in three districts in Amhara Regional State: Dangila, Mecha and Guangua. In this project, smallholder beekeepers receive everything from inputs to access to microfinance loans to training, and are connected to bigger cooperatives that buy honey from producers.

With this support, women like Sewasew Aemro, 28, have seen improvement in their lives. The young mother of three said: ‘I was promised for marriage when I was four years old. I became a wife to my husband at the age of 14. I did not have an opportunity to go to school … Back in the early days, after I joined the self-help group, I took a 3,600 birr (HK$1,224*) loan. I used 2,000 birr (HK$680*) to buy a bee colony and the rest to buy a modern beehive. Now I have all types of hives … a few seasons later, I believe I could harvest much more honey from the modern hives … In two years I have sold 300 kg of honey and was able to save 750 birr (HK$255*). With the rest of my profit, I have bought an ox, two sheep and one proper bed [we used to sleep in a traditional bed made on the floor with mud].’

*According to the exchange rate at the time this was written

Photo: Tigist Gebru / Oxfam