Pastoral Community Development Project in Ethiopia launches its third phase

On 17th June 2014 over 600 project staff, senior officials from the Federal and regional Government, Donors and other stakeholders congregated in Debrezeit, Ethiopia to launch the third phase of the Pastoral Community Development Project (PCDP). The PCDP III launch was an opportunity to discuss the project design, assess lessons learned and successes from the past and incorporate theses into the implementation of new activities.

The project launch was opened by Mr. Tessema Legebo, Country Programme Officer for IFAD and Mrs. Louis Scura, Sector Manager at the World Bank country office. Since the inception of PCDP in 2004, 1.9 million agro-pastoral and pastoralists have improved their livelihoods through project support. Investing in community led development plans, generated by pastoralist and agro pastoralist themselves; the project has successfully implemented development activities to serve their demands. The fifteen year project has now reached its third phase, aiming to reach an additional 2.6 million beneficiaries, expanding activities to an additional 113 woredas (local administrations) in Somali, Afar, Oromia and the Southern Nationalities, Nations and Peoples Region (SNNPR).  

Tessema Legebo gives an opening speech during the PCDP III launch.

Louis Scura, from the World Bank gives an opening speech during the PCDP III launch

H.E Mulget Wuletaw
 H.E. Mulgeta Wuletaw, the State Ministry of the Ministry of Federal Affairs, chaired discussions. Closing the workshop, H.E  Wuletaw encouraged project staff to use the momentum of past successes to successfully achieve targets and results in the third phase to bring about tangible benefits for pastoral and agro-pastoral communities. Several staff also received awards for their champion efforts to implement activities over the first and second phase of the project. 

A project staff received an award for exemplary achievements during the implementation of  the previous project phase

PCDP, which has been implemented since 2004, recently completed its second phase. PCDP II established 2,658 in 55 Woredas (local administrations) through a community investment fund. Engaging pastoral communities in development groups, they jointly decide on their priorities for basic services and activities they would like to pursue to improve their livelihoods. The project investment fund is then used to support these development plans that are implemented by the local administration. Through this structure of support, PCDP has improved access to safe water sources and establish animal health posts, local clinics and schools amongst various activities. PCDP has also successfully initiated disaster risk mechanisms, invested in forage and water development and developed livestock marketing and vaccination centres - enabling beneficiaries to build their resilience to disasters, such as, prolonged drought and conflict over scarce resources.

To improve the success of community driven service provision, PCDP III will develop a community level monitoring and learning system to enable beneficiaries to track projects, identify problems and account for results. The system will enable community leaders to periodically have an exchange with the local administration, thus holding implementing partners, project staff and local government actors accountable for community investments.

PCDP has also established 448 Savings & Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) in Somali, Afar, Oromia and SNPPR, all regions where populations, particularly pastoralist have limited access to banks and other financial service providers. This is a significant achievement as only 8% of the Ethiopian population have deposit accounts with commercial banks. SACCOs play an important role for pastoral communities to jointly save and create revolving loan funds for their members to finance income generating activities, such as, goat & sheep fattening, cattle rearing and processing of meat and dairy products and intensifying farming to sell highly nutrition and high value vegetables. However, new SACCOs formed through the project continue to face challenges; with low membership, SACCOs struggling to generate enough savings to maintain a revolving fund that may feasibly finance income generating activities. During the launch project members explored how they may link SACCOs with Unions and Cooperatives to strengthen their ability to mobilize more savings through increased membership. 

A low cost drip irrigation scheme and established with project support in Oromia, Ethiopia

In the past, many SACCO’s hesitated to initiate revolving loan funds fearing that arrangement may not meet the requirements of Islamic Financing, fundamental to the moral and ethical beliefs in a predominately Islamic society. The launch was also an opportunity to explore how to use appropriate language to discuss loans while sensitizing the community, and shared experiences on how some SACCOs gained the trust of Islamic communities once local Imams approved their activities.Additionally, as pastoral communities traverse across regions to various grazing lands; it is often difficult for them to regularly deposit savings and access loans. As a result, PCDP III will explore mobile banking structures. Ultimately, PCDP III will strengthen linkages with the Federal Cooperative Agency and strategically link with the IFAD financed Rural Financial Intermediation Programme.