This project seeks to ensure that women and men in seven districts of Benishangul-Gumuz have better access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food, more sustainable livelihood options, and opportunities for economic growth. The project also works to create partnerships and networks among stakeholders (community, government, donors, civil society) working in the region. The project is designed to implement activities that are in line with local priorities focusing on sustainable agriculture development and improved productivity; promotion of viable livelihoods for income generation; and improvement of the ability of government and non-government service providers at the regional, zonal, district and community levels to deliver accountable and effective services to households lacking access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. The project is implemented by Save the Children Canada in collaboration with five Canadian non-governmental organizations and one intergovernmental organization.
Results achieved as of the end of the project (December, 2015) include: 1)Agricultural Development: During the 5.5 years of project activities, significant gains were made in crop productivity throughout the project districts. The project measured five key crops (maize, sorghum, sesame, groundnut and haricot bean). Maize saw the highest increase in agricultural output, from 12.1 quintals per hectare to 31.89 quintals per hectare (a 164.4% increase). Additionally, more households accessed agricultural services and infrastructure. Of particular note is the improved access that female-headed households had, which increased from 20% in 2010 to 73.9% in 2015. Improved access resulted in better agricultural practices with the percent of households using better-quality seeds more than doubled for maize (by 27% for male-headed households, and by 38% for female-headed households). Socio-cultural and gender barriers that negatively affect agricultural production, as well as other areas of life, were addressed through community workshops which were attended by more than 8,900 (4,898 women) people. 2)Nutrition: The percentage of underweight children in the project districts at the outset of the project was alarming, with more than 45% of children underweight. After five years of continuous and multi-pronged engagement, the figure of underweight children declined significantly to 10%. One of the most profound changes that enabled the reduction of underweight children was the rise of households with children aged 6-36 months who received minimum dietary diversity education, which increased from 20.8% in 2010 to 96.5%, in 2015. To facilitate this change, the project trained 172 (21 women) health workers, 752 (368 women) government staff and 13,530 (9,097 women) community members on community-based nutrition and food security. 3)Disaster Risk Management: The project worked to improve the knowledge, skills and capacity of the regions to recognize, prepare for and prevent natural disasters. In order to do this, the project trained 770 (123 women) government staff and 11,363 (4,311 women) community members on disaster risk management. Also, 800 km of firebreaks were constructed throughout the region. These new firebreaks protect gains in agricultural productivity and newly established tree nurseries. There was also a rapid increase in the percent of community members accessing early warning information, rising from only 5% at the outset of the project to 94% in 2015. 4)Value Chain Development: Both the volume and value of commodities traded in the market place increased as well as the number of households engaged in market-oriented agriculture. Sale of sesame on the market by male-headed households and female-headed households increased by 19% and by 14% respectively. Increases were not limited to agricultural cash crops. Market engagement for goat-related activities rose by 24% for male-headed households and 23% for female-headed households. In order to enhance the development of the market broadly, 20 business forums promoting value chain linkages were hosted and 57 producer groups with inputs to enhance their value chains were supported. Annual household incomes rose by 154% as the result of crop and livestock production and off-farm activities. While male-headed households experienced a 143% increase in their average annual household income, female-headed households reported 337% increase in their average annual household income. These results have contributed to improved agricultural output, better access to nutritious food and income generation, and more sustainable likelihoods for Ethiopian families in the targeted areas.