Vita Programme in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is situated in East Africa, and is home to more than 80 million people, with many different ethnic groups, languages and cultures. The economy is largely based on agriculture, with over a quarter of the population involved in the production of coffee. Agroculture forms the basis of the exports of the country, with over half its exports coming from the trade in coffee. Howeverm the Ethiopian economy’s reliance on the production of coffee and the prices it fetches on international markets, had led to a state of economic instability. Efforts are made by the Government and non-governmental organisations to diversify agricultural produce and the economic base.

Another issue affecting the country is the increasingly unpredictable and unreliable rainfall. Almost all farmers in Ethiopia are reliant on rainfall for their crops. This proves to be an incredible challenge, as without rainfall famers are left with bare fields. Much of Vita’s work in Ethiopia focuses on tackling these issues head-on, and therefore focuses on income diversification and increasing agricultural production.

Vita in Ethiopia:

Vita has been working in Ethiopia since 2005, particularly in the Gamo Gofa Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR). The SNNPR is one of the poorest regions of Ethiopia. The majority of the population is based in rural areas, and is heavily reliant on agriculture. Our work includes:

Improving Sanitation:

Through educating the population of the effects of poor sanitation practices, and providing the supplies needed to construct sanitation facilities, Vita is committed to Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS)

Increasing Food Access and Incomes:

By supplying small groups of farmers with improved potato seeds and other agricultural inputs, such as fertiliser and extension services, Vita hope to increase households’ access to food and improved incomes. Alongside this, Vita also organises drip-irrigation projects, which save water and fertiliser by dripping them directly on to the roots.

Increasing Nutrition:

Vegetable seeds are also distributed alongside agricultural inputs and training in order for households to grow vegetables for consumption and sale. Vegetables contain many micronutrients required for a balanced diet. Additionally, they are often sought after in the market, and can help supplement household income.

Promoting Capacity Building and Scalability:

Wherever possible, Vita implements its projects in partnership with local government and community bodies. This approach creates ownership amongst the community, and promotes the long-term sustainability of the project. Ownership and sustainability of projects strongly enhance the likelihood that the project can be scaled up and replicated across the country, increasing the number of people that can be reached by one project.

Supporting Agricultural Research:

By partnering with farmer’s cooperatives, the International Potato Centre (CIP), Wageningen University, Teagasc and others, Vita aims to support research-led seed development. The majority of this agricultural research is taking place in the Ethiopian Potato Centre of Excellence, which Vita helped to establish.