The Nazareth Community Development Project has been under implementation since 2002 and 425 SHGs, 36 CLAs and three Federations have been established in Adama town and its catchment areas. The project had targeted the most vulnerable and poorest community members in slums of Adama town. The local government evaluated and confirmed that the livelihood of the neediest community members has been transformed over time through SHG approach .SHG members are now better off communities and resilient to recurrent droughts and shocks while compared to those communities who have not involved on SHGs. Through the efforts exerted in empowering low income community groups, now SHG members become entrepreneurs who manage diversified businesses. Most of them have been running profitable businesses and improving their livelihood. The level of unemployment has been declining at the project area due to the positive impact that SHGs brought on the lives of poor communities. These community groups had been previously categorized as the poorest of poor before the SHG promotion project intervention.The SHG approach has been appreciated and recognized by various government and non government stakeholders. EKHCDC has scaled up the project to four regions of the country and increased the number of SHGs to 17,776. Lessons gained in the course of past SHG journey show that the major contributing factor for community’s livelihood transformation is the group affinity and trust among members. The marginalized voice less people get organized and worked together through their SHGs and now they are influencing decision makers. They could also positively influence their neighbors and advocate for the marginalized community groups at their areas.
Even though the SHG approach has had remarkable impacts in transforming the livelihood of poorest communities, its sustainability has not been granted. The institutional capacities of its apex structures has not been built so that they are not capable to shoulder the responsibilities of SHGs’ development on future development. Moreover, SHG approach has not been recognized by regional as well as national governments . Though they approach has significantly contributed for poverty reduction and livelihood development of poorest communities, they have been still assumed to be informal groups by concerned parts including high level government structures. Moreover they are not accessing due support from government and other development actors.
With this regard EKHDC has exerted efforts to build sustainable partnership with local governments of Adama area so that the government line offices understand and recognize the impacts of SHGs in improving socioeconomic status of poorest communities. So that this is the fertile ground that would contribute for networking and linkage of SHGs with the government line offices. The partnership will be taken as an input for the licencing and certification process of SHGs by regional and federal governments.
In addition to networking and linking SHGs to the government line offices, the project will support institutional capacity building the capacity of CLAs and Federations which will ensure sustainability of SHG development. At past interventions EKHCDC has supported for establishment of federations, however their capacity has not been developed to lead the future growth path of SHGs and CLAs. Therefore the ultimate focus of this phase is to build the institutional capacity of SHG apex structures that would shoulder their future development and to support the process of accessing licences from regional and national government.
What are the specific geographic location characteristics and issues?
Adama city is the center of the project, where is located at 100km from the capital Addis Ababa. And the other interventions areas are peri-urban areas that are located in the catchment of Adama town where poor slum dwellers are living. The Adama city is one of the largest cities in Ethiopia where multiple community groups are living together. The city is business center for central eastern part of the country where low income community groups to larger investors have been involving. Whereas the per-urban area dwellers are poor community groups whose livelihood is based on subsistence agriculture.
How have you identified this need? Eg. Through previous experience, needs assessments, surveys, requests from communities etc.
The specific project has been under operation since 2002 and time serious data has been collected from SHG structures and individual members over the project implementation period . Based on the data collected, successive brain storming sessions have been conducted with community members, project staff members and EKHCDC management team. Therefore this phase has incorporated the findings from the ground on the need of SHGs and their members that sustain SHG structures on the future.
? What are the roots causes of the problem(s)? What do you hope to change with this project
Due to SHG promotion program the livelihood of the target communities has been transformed. They managed to earn income and feed their family, send their children to school and cover their medical expenses. However, SHG structures; CLAs and Federations, whose members are representatives of SHGs have not been empowered to lead and sustain the impact of SHG approach beyond the project period. Moreover, the national and regional governments have not formulated policy frame work that support SHG development. So that SHGs have not got due attention and support from local and national government. Therefore, on this project phase,it has been planned to build the leadership capacity of SHG apex structures and to secure legal framework for SHG approach from the national and regional governments.
Are there any underlying government policies or practices which are contributing to the problem(s)?
Ethiopian government has been promoting community groups under small and micro scale enterprise by providing technical and financial supports. The government has not granted legal licences for SHGs even though local and regional government line offices appreciate the impact that the approach brought on the lives of poorest communities at each of the intervention areas. In addition to this the role of SHGs in saving mobilization and market stabilization in the economy is found to be essential,however the government has not designed legal framework that enhance SHG development. Moreover, under its growth and transformation plan ,Ethiopian government has planned to establish women saving groups which is more or less the same to SHGs, nevertheless it has not recognized the role of SHGs in reducing absolute poverty that the neediest communities had been .So that these factors have significantly contributed for weak institutional development of SHGs and its structures.