Benishangul Gumuz Food Security and Economic Growth Project

Oxfam Canada is working with other Canadian NGOs and with the Regional Government of Benishangul Gumuz on a food security and economic growth initiative in seven districts of this remote western region part of Ethiopia.

Oxfam Canada is improving food security and promoting economic growth in a poor rural area of northwestern Ethiopia where most families are almost exclusively dependent on subsistence farming.

One of Oxfam’s key roles in the Benishangul Gumuz Food Security and Economic Growth project is to train local communities to reduce the risk of disaster and to prepare to protect their livelihoods when natural or man-made disaster strikes.

Wild fires, deforestation, droughts, pest infestations, unpredictable rainfalls, and diseases affecting animals and humans have weakened the livelihoods and food security of semi-pastoralists and farmers who represent the vast majority of the population in the region. Thousands of households face food shortages each year.

Oxfam is one of six Canadian aid and development organizations working in a unique partnership with the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan and the regional Benishangul Gumuz government in the 2010-2015 project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.

The project aims to increase food availability and nutrition, promote women’s rights and strengthen local capacity to support economic growth while creating partnerships and networks among communities, government, donors and civil society working in the region.

A highlight of Oxfam’s achievements in the project is training of government and communities on prevention of locally-specific risks and hazards, including animal diseases and wild fires.

Training has helped community members regard fire prevention as an integral part of protecting the community’s livelihood.

Oxfam Canada has worked with the Ethiopian government in 21 kebeles or wards to establish Community Wildfire Prevention Plans.

Wildfire prevention and fighting skills were taught. Master trainers led community workshops. Disaster prevention committees were formed, equipped with training manuals and tools. Community hazard maps were developed. Break lines, which are roads, rivers, or strips of land that must be kept clear of brush and vegetation, were mapped out to protect valuable bamboo and other forests, grazing land and cropped farm land.

The consortium of agencies implementing the project in seven districts is led by Save the Children and includes Oxfam Canada, the Canadian Hunger Foundation, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, Food for the Hungry, and World Vision Canada.

Read: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty


June 2013