Ethiopia: Epicenter Food Banks Help in Time of Drought


Update to the Global Board
(October 2008)

Executive Summary

In the third quarter of 2008, The Hunger Project-Ethiopia concentrated on the construction of the Machakel Epicenter and the revitalization of the various community projects in Jaldu and Debre Libanos. In addition, the period witnessed the visit of 15 investors coming from five countries. A drought in the Jaldu area was a major concern both for The Hunger Project-Ethiopia and the Epicenter Committee members who had to attempt to resolve the issue by distributing needed grain to affected people.

Major drawbacks were the soaring price of construction materials, the lack of qualified health staff in the health centers and the indifference of district officials in assigning appropriate teachers for the various literacy centers in accordance with the agreements concluded. Special attention is required to solve the problem of the health centers, which are fully furnished but not used by the community members due to the above mentioned lack of qualified staff. The Hunger Project-Ethiopia is ready to submit an alternative method to utilize these centers during October in New York.

Details on Progress

Eradicating Hunger

The Hunger Project-Ethiopia engaged in major activities toward our objective of ending hunger, specifically in the area of epicenter farms, food bank activities and improving household food production.

Epicenter Farms

The last six-month period was the main farming season in all of our epicenters. All epicenters, with the exception of Machakel Epicenter, which is still under construction, cultivated cereals and vegetables on their community farms as an effort to ensure food security in their communities.

All farming activities were accomplished by mobilized partners, except in Jaldu where land preparation and sowing were performed by hired farmers and the epicenter's own pair of draft animal (oxen). In order to perform the various farming activities, a total of 631 partners were mobilized and 246 draft animals were used.

Farming Activities by Epicenter

EpicenterLand in hectares

Harvest in kilograms

Land preparation in hectares

Land Sown in hectares

Harvest area in hectares

Debre Libanos550.1894-
All epicenters12.1412.140.241466-

A total of 12.14 hectares of land was covered by various crops, and 1,466 kilograms of vegetables were harvested as of the end of September. The remaining crops will mature in the coming quarter.

Due to an extended dry season, there were many challenges, including: dried farm land, which made farming with draft animals difficult; a very short period for land preparation; an overlap of household farming activities with the epicenter community farm activities; depletion of epicenters' wells during the dry season; and water logging and flooding due to high intensity of rain in the months of July and August. Based on these consequences, we are expecting the coming harvest to be reduced.

To minimize the effects of the problems encountered, more partners were mobilized to undertake farming activities in the remaining period. A specific technology, called Broad Based Maker (BBM) technology, was used to reduce effects of water logging in Debre Libanos Epicenter, and a revision of the crops to be planted was successfully initiated.

Demonstrations and Farm Trial Activities

Animal feed production and compost preparation were demonstrated to farmers in Debre Libanos and Jaldu Epicenters.

Forty-five farmers were trained on animal feed production in Debre Libanos Epicenter. As a result, 150 kilograms of feed was produced and distributed to farmers. The trained farmers are expected to perform the same on their own site, while others will learn from them. The necessary inputs for the production of feed were supplied by The Hunger Project-Ethiopia on credit.

In Jaldu and Debre Libanos Epicenters, 2,700 kilograms of compost was produced and used by the epicenter farms.

Quality Protein Maize (QPM) variety of seed was shown for trial in Mesqan Epicenter. The variety will be supplied to the farmers after assessing the performance. The seed was obtained from SG- 2000.

Agricultural Input Provision

Two-hundred and eighty-seven kilograms (kg) of two maize varieties (BH 660 and QPM were supplied to Machakel Epicenter and the district agriculture office. Sixty farmers at Machakel Epicenter were supplied with 37.5 kg of BH 660 improved maize variety that covered 7.5 hectares of land.

QPM was supplied to the district agriculture office to be planted in five Farmers' Training Centers (FTCs). The woreda (local government) agriculture office reported the germination of the seed was very good and after evaluation of its performance, the variety will be introduced to farmers in the epicenter. Agricultural development agents in each FTC will organize farmers' field visits to acquaint them with the variety and encourage them to adopt it.

Since there was a shortage of BH 660 maize variety in the country, it was not possible to satisfy the farmers demand in the epicenter.

In Debre Libanos and Jaldu Epicenters, we distributed seeds to 100 farmers who were recruited by their respective Epicenter Committees. Those who received bean seed at Debre Libanos were among members whose harvest failed last year and could not get seed from other sources.

The epicenters used 1,191 kg of potato seed from the defused light storage facility in the epicenter to plant potato plots in the epicenter farms, and they sold 163 kg to partners. From the new potato harvest, the epicenters are preparing seed for the next season.

Grain Bank Supplement

The Grain Bank Supplement program in Mesqan Epicenter was very successful last year. The input revolving fund helped to increase households' total production as well as production for the food bank. Repayment was completed in time and all costs were recovered.

The households covered by the program were given training on crop production and farm input use (facilitated by The Hunger Project-Ethiopia) and technical support on farm management (by woreda agriculture experts). Having evaluated all the practices and the harvest, the produce was recommended for use as improved seed and as a result, households got higher income from sale of their produce.

Following the result, this year, it was decided to replicate the program in Debre Libanos too.

The Epicenter Committees in the respective epicenters were given a mandate to set criteria and recruit farmers who can participate in the program. They identified the following criteria and recruited farmers to be addressed with the program.

Farmers must: (1) have adequate land, labor force and draft animal; (2) have no (other) access to inputs; (3) be willing to participate in trainings on farm management and sustainable land use; and (4) be willing to repay in-kind, including interest.

A total of 92 farmers were recruited by the epicenter committees, and 82 of them were provided with the necessary inputs and training with a cost of Birr 46,205. The farmers will return the grain amount of the credit with 10 percent interest after harvest.

Grain Bank Management

At this time, the epicenters' food banks have 51,826 kg of grain that can feed 3,455 persons for a month (15 kg of cereal/person/month). The stock is obtained from the epicenter farm, grain bank supplement program, purchased by the epicenter communities' own income and support by The Hunger Project-Ethiopia.

Since last year's harvest was not good in Jaldu, the people were facing a serious food shortage. Considering the situation, the epicenter committee decided to supply 25,000 kg of grain from its food bank to 1,238 households with 4,904 members who were severely affected.

The district had earlier informed The Hunger Project-Ethiopia that over 27,000 people in the Jaldu area were affected by extreme poverty due to severe drought, out of which 5,000 people needed immediate attention. The Hunger Project-Ethiopia and the Epicenter Committee tried to be part of the solution by supplying food grain to the needy households affected by drought, but since large numbers of people are still affected and the next harvest too is not expected to be good, a government intervention may be required.

Epicenter Income

In the reporting period, the epicenters earned a total income of Birr 55,698.70 and had expenditures amounting to Birr 35,000.40. The expenditure items include purchase of medicine, farm inputs, grain and salary for epicenter staff (guard, cleaner, nursery school teacher, etc.).

The epicenters currently have 18 hired staff. The salary of six staff members is paid by the epicenters' own income.

Achieve Universal Education

Including the newly recruited children in Mesqan, the epicenters' nursery schools enrolled 120 children (58 of whom were girls). The children are fed one meal a day. Fifteen boy and 18 girl children in the nursery class at Jaldu Epicenter were transferred to grade one after evaluation by relevant experts.

Construction of five literacy center was completed, seven were 90%completed and five had slow progress. The implementation of three literacy centers in Jaldu did not begin as planned due to disagreement on locations among partners. Furniture production for the literacy centers was completed and will be transported to the specific sites in the coming month.

Two-hundred adults who were attending literacy programs in four locations at Debre Libanos were evaluated and got approval to graduate. The assessment was made by experts from the woreda education office.

In Jaldu, most of the projects are remotely located and due to peak agricultural season, it was not possible to supply adequate industrial material to the specific construction sites in time using community labor. As a result the physical achievement in the period was slow.

The soaring price of cement and long period of time required to buy it from government sources were serious problems that contributed to the low physical progress of construction activities in both epicenters.

Gender Equality

Through the African Woman Food Farmer Initiative (AWFFI) and Strategic Planning in Action (SPIA) programs, credit and saving mobilization and training activities were performed.

Credit and Saving Mobilization

In the last quarter, 249 AWFFI and 145 SPIA new loan partners were mobilized and organized in 20 AWFFI and 11 SPIA groups in Jaldu, Debre Libanos, Mesqan and Machakel Epicenters.

In all the epicenters, Birr 874,100.00 was disbursed to 1,365 partners organized in 109 loan groups. Sixty-three percent of loan beneficiaries were women while the rest were men. Sixty percent of the loans disbursed were to women beneficiaries.

From AWFFI and SPIA, Birr 40,813.31 in savings was mobilized in the quarter. Including voluntary savings, the total savings mobilized to date is Birr 152,603.84.

Major problems associated with saving and credit activities were a raised demand for credit and limited credit fund available.

The credit fund for microfinance activity was obtained from The Hunger Project-Sweden.

Access to Basic Health

Construction of four health posts (two in Jaldu, one in Debre Libanos and one in Machakel) were progressing during the period and they are about 25-50 percent completed.

In Jaldu and Debre Libanos Epicenter health clinics, 342 members (of whom 206 were less than five years of age) were treated for different health problems. In Jaldu Epicenter, 226 mothers and 166 children were vaccinated and 60 mothers were given prenatal care service. Debre Libanos Epicenter clinic has one nurse assigned by the woreda health office while Jaldu clinic is operated by three health extension workers. Two nurses were assigned by the woreda government to Mesqan Epicenter.

Health service by Epicenter clinics in Jaldu and Debre Libanos


Debre Libanos



All OthersAll Ages


Treatment of diseases7895173-154661269330
Prenatal care--

In Jaldu Epicenter, 13 trained birth attendants (TBA) were giving services. With the help of TBAs, 115 births were delivered. Two-hundred and twenty-six people were given HIV/AIDS training and 144 male condoms were distributed. Fifty-seven people were given malaria treatment.

Ensure Environment Sustainability

Forest nursery and plantation

Indigenous forest tree (Cordia africana) seed was sown in Debre Libanos Epicenter. When matured, the seed will be used to cover 1.5 hectares of land in the epicenter. Based on the experience, the production of indigenous trees will be expanded to cover bare lands.

Access to potable water

Six spring spot development, 16 hand-dug wells (HDWs) and two gravity schemes were under construction in Jaldu, Debre Libanos, Mesqan and Machakel Epicenters. Nine of them were completed, with the rest in progress. When completed, the projects are expected to supply potable water to more than 10,000 community members in their respective epicenter communities.

With the exception of Debre Libanos Epicenter, the progress of water projects was not satisfactory. The problems were lack of skilled labor in spring and hand-dug well development and delays to produce studies and designs of the projects. In addition, the soaring price of construction materials on the market and the long period of time required to get cement from government sources contributed to the slow progress.

The Jaldu (Shonta) water supply project, which is expected to provide water to about 6,000 members, is 85 percent complete. It has 13 kilometers of pipeline with 11 water points, two cattle troughs, a 75,000 liter reservoir and other structures. The specific sites of the project are very difficult to access with vehicles, hence, all industrial materials and sand supplied from outside were transported by humans and animals. Although community participation at the beginning was satisfactory, it has deteriorated due to various reasons, including the fact that most partners have been affected by food shortages in the area and the failure of the relevant government structure to mobilize the community.

The community contribution in the form of trench excavation, back filling, sand and stone collection and transportation of all construction materials to the specific sites was estimated to be more than Birr 60,000.

Environmental sanitation

Among AWFFI and SPIA partners in three epicenters, 589 households have constructed and started using dry pit latrines in their compounds.

Community Participation

Epicenter Committee meetings

In the reporting period, twelve regular Epicenter Committee meetings were held. The attendance in Mesqan Epicenter was the highest (82 percent) and Debre Libanos was the lowest (56 percent). Women's attendance in both epicenters is higher compared to men. Women's attendance in Mesqan was still the highest compared to other epicenters, with the lowest was in Debre Libanos. At the meetings, they discussed the epicenter farm, current drought situation, epicenter community project performance, food bank management and credit performance. Committee members in Mesqan were found to be the most active during discussions compared to those in other epicenters.

Contribution to project costs

Community contribution to projects in both epicenters was good. The community actively participated in mobilizing local resources, transporting industrial materials to specific sites, producing concrete pipes for hand-dug wells and contributing in cash to purchase and supply local materials that are not available with the members. In the Jaldu (Shonta) water supply project, 4,785 people participated. In Mesqan Epicenter, the community contribution to various community projects was estimated to amount to Birr 45,000.

Other Activities

New epicenters

In the newly identified epicenter at Wurib, Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops were conducted to 461 community members who were drawn from three kebeles (wards). Baseline information was collected and project documentation has already begun.

Investors Visit

Hunger Project investors from five different countries had six days to visit The Hunger Project-Ethiopia and its partners. All in all, about 2,000 partner community members welcomed the investors at the epicenters. Major activities included:

  • A visit to The Hunger Project-Ethiopia country office. Investors were briefed on the overall achievements and challenges of The Hunger Project-Ethiopia. One afternoon session was devoted for small group discussion with the office staff of specialized departments.
  • Visit to three epicenters: The investors visited Jaldu, Debre Libanos and Mesqan Epicenters. They observed the facilities, witnessed services, observed training programs, and held discussions with trainees and trainers. The investors also visited the homes of AWFFI/SPIA partners and the agricultural fields of the food bank supplement program partners.
  • Visit to partner NGOs: The works of two Hunger Project non-governmental organization (NGO) partners, Girar Bet Rehabilitation Center and Hiwot AIDS, Prevention, Care and Support Organization, were visited.
  • Investors also visited select historical sites and city site-seeing was arranged.

Recent Innovations

The Hunger Project-Ethiopia has not witnessed any innovation for the period, but the practice of supplying inputs to selected farmers (taken from the Malawi experience) has proven fruitful in consolidating the food bank.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)

Monitoring progress was frequently made at different levels by respective Hunger Project staff, Epicenter Committees and government bodies. This is an important opportunity to evaluate the degrees of commitment and expected outcomes as scheduled. The monitoring of impact was facilitated by closely following the M&E indicators. Deterioration of food security at Jaldu Epicenter was detected with the help of the monitoring activity. In the coming quarter, we plan to revise the information gathering system to make M&E more effective.


The Hunger Project-Ethiopia is working with a number of NGOs to enhance the capacities of the partner communities. Apart from working with partner government offices, The Hunger Project-Ethiopia is working with Global 2000, Rotary International, Grar Rehabilitation Center and Consortium 2000.

In-Country Funding Opportunities

Apart from The Rotary Clubs in Addis Ababa who sponsored the Jaldu water supply project, which was mainly funded by Rotary International, no other in-country funding was obtained.

Broader Awareness of The Hunger Project/Media Coverage

The reporting period saw increased awareness in the media coverage within the country. One of the private FM Radios gave The Hunger Project-Ethiopia a one-hour coverage explaining the objectives, principles and methodology of The Hunger Project and highlighted the achievements of The Hunger Project-Ethiopia during the past three years.

The Reporter, one of the most influential weekly publications in Ethiopia, interviewed the Country Director on the work of The Hunger Project. Various other media units with in the regions have also given coverage on their respective regions applauding the work of The Hunger Project-Ethiopia.

Future Plans

During the next quarter, we will concentrate on the construction of the Machakel Epicenter, the completion of the various literacy centers in all epicenters, hand-dug wells and training programs, especially in family planning, HIV/AIDS, income-generating activities and demonstrations of farming activities. A project document for Wurib is finalized and will be presented to the zone for signature

Country Profile - Ethiopia

Population (Male, Female)74,777,981
Percent of population in rural areas85%
Infant Mortality Rate80/1,000
Maternal Mortality Rate871/100,000
Life Expectancy at birth53.1
Percent of population undernourishedN.A.
HIV/AIDS adult prevalence Rate4.4%
HIV/AIDS deathsN.A.
HIV/AIDS people living with HIV/AIDSN.A.
Literacy Rate (Male, Female)37
Primary (Net) school enrollment (Male, Female)37%
GDP per capita110
Population earning less than $1/dayN.A.