Onions and a “leaky bucket”: A success story

by oxfamcanada | January 23, 2013
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Gathered together under the shade of a big leafy tree, a group of men and women listen attentively to Rupiya Avenqee present the results of a “leaky bucket” exercise by members of her community economic group in Adami Tullu, Ethiopia.

The exercise is a practical tool used in ABCD, Asset-Based Community Development, to identify ways of increasing and saving income and resources. ABCD is an innovative approach to community development that shifts emphasis from needs and problems to community strengths, assets and opportunities.

In Adami Tullu, onions are the prime asset. In fact, many women could not attend Rupiya’s presentation since they were out harvesting onions to fill a large order they had just received from a buyer.

But onions are not the only thing growing in Adami Tullu. Spinoffs of Oxfam Canada’s Agriculture and Market Growth project include an adult literacy program, training in numerical and business skills and most importantly, the increased participation of women in economic and decision-making activities.

The two-year Agriculture and Market Growth project is designed to increase the  marketing know-how and incomes of more than 4,000 farmers, traders and agricultural cooperative members in Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region of Ethiopia. The majority of beneficiaries are women.

“The main issues we had to deal with were finding markets to sell our goods and finding capital to produce them”, said the Chair of the community group. “The project has given us more confidence to deal with people and organizations involved in markets. We joined a local cooperative and got a loan from a microfinance organization – we can now proactively engage with suppliers and buyers.”

Rupiya’s community still faces some important challenges – like how to store produce and how to get larger loans to increase production. But thanks to the ABCD mindset at work in the Agriculture and Market Growth project, people like Rupiya are gaining the confidence and skills that will help the community overcome them.  


Since 2003, Oxfam Canada and the Coady International Institute have been working with the ABCD approach to development in Ethiopia. The 2012-2013 Agriculture and Market Growth project, co-financed by Oxfam and the Canadian International Development Agency, lays the foundation for the use and replication of the asset-based community development model.


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