Bringing Positive Change to Women in Ethiopia

by oxfamcanada | October 25, 2013
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Women in the small mountain town of Amaro Kelle in Ethiopia have a lot to celebrate.

Their town is home to the Amaro Bulla Processing Center – the first center of its kind in Ethiopia.

Bulla is a food derivative of ensete – also known as the false banana – a native plant to tropical regions of Africa and Asia. An economically important foodcrop in Ethiopia, bulla is processed and then eaten as porridge.

An Agri Service Ethiopia (ASE) and Oxfam joint initiative, the processing center has shortened processing times, reduced labor requirements and increased the quality of the bulla produced. Most importantly, the Center has changed the lives of people, particularly women, in Amaro Kelle – for the better!

Acess to Markets and Capacity Building 

Traditional methods for processing bulla are time consuming and do not give a high quality product. Because it’s mainly the women’s responsibility, for them the Center means a better access to markets and getting a higher price for their bulla, therefore increasing their income. It also means they have more free time to engage in other activities in their community.

Fanaye Bekele, a local women’s affairs representative, said: "The project has immense benefit to women, particularly the bulla processing technologies, in reducing the work load and time spent to produce bulla."

Women in Amaro Kelle were provided not only with training on the use of new processing technologies, but also on the concepts and practices of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). This includes basic business skills, financial management and organizational leadership.

Although Ethiopia has seen some progress in reducing poverty of its largely rural, agricultural-based population, cultural norms, traditions and practices continue to impede women’s equality. They have less access to land and resources, have fewer economic and educational opportunities, and face considerable risks of gender-based violence.

The Center is one of the achievements of Oxfam's Agricultural Market Growth Project, a Government of Canada funded initiative that aims to increase the income of small-scale farmers and producers, in particular women, by using a citizen-driven and asset-based approach to community economic development.

Ato Anesa Melleo, a member of local government, said that the entire community really appreciated the initiative, and that “it has greatly improved the livelihoods of Amaro women bulla producers.”  He added that the government will make sure that “the project’s successes and lessons will be expanded across the region.”

The Amaro Bulla Processing Center is part of Oxfam's Agricultural Market Growth project, an 18 month program ending in October 2013, funded by the Government of Canada. 

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is and innovative approach to development that values and mobilizes individual and community talents, skills and assets (rather than focusing on problems and needs).

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