Editor’s note: This is the first of seven case studies from the files of iDE Ethiopia which we’re posting here to spotlight the human reality that motivates our work and gives it meaning. The individuals featured in these vignettes are the true heroes in the fight against global poverty.
Asnakech Nigussie, 39, is the single mother of two children and lives in Shubi Gemo Village in Dugda Woreda, Ethiopia. Before she was able to start making a living from agriculture, Asnakech made money by selling a local liquor called arekie. She says that her son was forced to work as a laborer at a very young age, but even this additional income wasn’t enough for the family. Asnakech expresses her desperation:
“No one could have supported me to improve my life since I am very poor. The income I used to get hardly covered the basic needs of my children. We lived from hand to mouth all the time. Since I don’t have oxen and money to seed my small plot of land (1 hectare), I used to rent it out to others so that they will share with me half of the grain at the time of harvest. Getting even small amounts of money from neighbors was difficult for me. The local money lenders would tell me to come one day and when I went, they would tell me to come back another day because they knew that I had nothing.”
According to Asnakech, she often couldn’t pay back her loans on time and the moneylenders were forced to reclaim the grain that she used the loans to purchase. As a result of not having anything to plant Asnakech had to rent out her land for a very low price in order to make money for living expenses.
The iDE field staff heard Asnakech’s story and facilitated her interactions with the local microfinance institution. She used the money she borrowed to buy a rope and washer pump and have it installed on her hand-dug well. With the extra water the pump provided, she managed to grow vegetables, such as chili peppers and kale, on her backyard 500m2 plot.
‘‘The first produce I sold earned Birr 5,650.00 [a little less than $300], and that was unbelievable to me,” she says.
‘‘Later I also took a second loan of 1,500 Birr [about $78] that helped me to further expand my business and buy all the necessary inputs, including the wages of daily laborers. I harvested 12 quintals of maize and sold part of it for Birr 1800.”
Asnakech’s total income before the intervention, which came from the sale of the local drink, was 1,100 Birr per year, or about $57. After iDE’s intervention, her income consisted of the following:
- Chili pepper 3,750 Birr
- Kale 1,150 Birr
- Pepper seedling 750 Birr
- Maize 1,800 Birr
- Total Income 7,450.00 Birr
Meanwhile, Asnakech’s cost of production was just 1,690 Birr ($88), which included:
- Kale seed 15 Birr
- Chili seed 25 Birr
- Pesticide 150 Birr
- Cost of RWP 1500 Birr
- Total cost 1,690.00 Birr
Thus, her net income within one season rose from $57 to 5,760 Birr, or $427. On an annual basis, she earned net income of 11,520 Birr, or $853.
Asnakech says, “I continued working hard, and by now I own an ox and two sheep, I have enough grain that I can feed my family properly, and both of my children are now going to school. We also have access to clean water from the pump that can be used for household consumption in our dwelling.”
Asnakech credits iDE for making her motivated, hardworking, skillful, and self-reliant. She is proud of the support she has received and has pledged to work even harder in the future.