Partnership for Food Security in Ethiopia

By Deborah Turner for Compassionate Eye Foundation

Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) in partnership with CHF, formerly Canadian Hunger Foundation, have completed the 6th and final year of Phase II of a project to alleviate chronic food insecurity. This project in the Bati district of Amhara region in northeastern Ethiopia was in response to the recurring cycle of drought in the area. The most recent drought occurred in 2003. A new approach was adopted to meet the immediate food needs of those affected and also to address the underlying causes of chronic food insecurity. A long term plan was developed by CHF and the Ethiopian non-profit Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA) to overcome the recurring cycle of drough, famine and humanitarian assistance. This project was supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Canada's Sprott Foundation. CIDA matched donor funds at a ratio of 28:1. This project touched 47,000 food insecure people in Ethiopia.


  • Increased agricultural production and performance - Significant gains in income resulted from the introduction of two cash crops, groundnuts and white sesame. Cassava was also introduced as a food security crop and some adopters are using it for domestic consumption as well as selling cuttings to neighbouring farmers for their use. Sale of fruits and vegetables introduced to the area continue to provide regular income to those farmers engaged in their production. Sales of livestock and livestock products are providing asset-building resources to households engaged in this activity.
  • Rehabilitated environment - Degraded land has been restored by building hillside terraces, water collection trenches and reservoirs, and shallow water wells. Reforestation has also contributed to improving the degraded ecosystem in Bati. Training sessions addressed watershed management, soil and water conservation, nursery management and alternative energy technology. A significant consciousness-raising activity took the form of a symposium attended by 290 government and non-government stakeholders such as elders and religious leaders. Its purpose was to formulate community regulations and resulted in a a prohibition on the sale of charcoal. It is reported that these sales have decreased significantly. There will be a followup symposium to evaluate implementation of the regulations and to revise future action plans.
  • Increased and diversified income opportunities and earnings - The project provided workshops for both men and women alongside livestock and agricultural training to reinforce the benefits of gender equality at the household level. Women's savings and and credit groups have more than doubled to some 250 in Year 5. Efforts continue to link members to micro-finance institutions present in Bati. This will contribute to capacity building of the savings and credit groups.
  • Improved infrastructure - The capacity of local level institutions and government offices to ensure effective management and ownership of the the various infrastructure created by the project was strengthened. Responsibility for infrastructure interventions has been handed over to community and government bodies. These bodies are to ensure sustainable maintenance and upkeep into the future.
  • Gender and HIV/AIDS mainstreaming - All project activities ensure women are regarded as equal partners in development with men. The Gender Mainstreaming Survey found 59% of women and 51% of men consider that women's decision-making power has greatly improved. In addition, the Lessons Learned Study reported that more than 90% of wives have been involved in key decisions of the household, including those related to sale of crops and livestock, as well as those related to land issues. In Year 5, the donation of a motorcycle to Bati town's Women's bureau enhanced the projects gender and HIV/AIDS mainstreaming efforts and will ensure these efforts are sustained after project closure.
  • Enhanced capacity of government, communities and households - Support was provided to Government offices at the woreda (township) or kebele (ward) level to improve their capacity to implement food security and other initiatives. Activities focused on handover of interventions and processes to Government offices and beneficiary communities, as well as clearly defining roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders. The project's close association with the Office of Agriculture and Rural Development, the prime beneficiary of this engagement, as well as the Offices of Education and Health plus the Women's Affairs Bureau are positive indicators of the sustainability of gains achieved over the life of the project.
  • Enhanced capacity of ORDA - ORDA continues to articulate and refine its internal systems. After the years of project support it is a stronger organization. It is operating under a strategic plan for the period 2009 - 2013 that was developed through a lengthy participatory process with close collaborators and stakeholders. The major challenge over the last year was the late onset and early cessation of rainfall which affected crop planting and available pasture for livestock. Other challenges included the overlap of capacity-building activities with other government offices.


The three phases of this project are now complete. However a model has emerged to alleviate chronic food security by complementing government efforts. This highly successful endeavour is now known at the Bati Model. With its significant impact on the relatively large scale of 47,000 food insecure people situated within 10 kebeles, this model has the potential for use in other drought-affected areas of the world. CHF continues to expand its efforts in Ethiopia and is planning other projects that will benefit from the lessons learned and achievements in this partnership.

For more information on the Bati Model see -