Ethiopia is situated in the Horn of Africa, it is a vibrant, dynamic country with the fastest growing economy in Africa. Ethiopia is home to more than 110 million people, with many different ethnic groups, languages, and cultures. The population is predominantly rural, and dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture employs around 72% of the population, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation). About 74% of the countries’ farmers are small family farmers. These smallholders produce 90-95% of Ethiopia’s food.  

The effects of climate change are drastically impacting on this rural population that is almost entirely dependent on the land for their survival. Extreme weather like droughts and floods, which are increasingly common, have devastating effects on household food security and poverty levels. On top of this, the land systems that rural communities rely on for their livelihoods – land, water, forests and other resources –  are being depleted.

In order to survive the severe economic and environmental adversity these communities are faced with, immediate and effective climate action is needed: 

Food Security

We work with rural communities to ensure nutritious and sufficient food all year round, supporting communities to use climate-smart agriculture in order to increase farm yields and household incomes without harming the environment and supporting sustainable rural livelihoods. Vita is helping to build sustainable food production in Ethiopia through community-based seed multiplication systems for strategic food security crops, including the potato, as well as a wide range of food crops so they can have a varied diet and better nutrition.

Inclusive Rural Livelihoods

We support the development of inclusive rural value chains and strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers to engage profitably within them to raise household incomes. We prioritise climate-smart local economic development strategies that link women and rural youth, including persons with disabilities, to farm, off-farm and non-farm economic opportunities.

Access to clean water

Vita has undertaken a large-scale programme of rehabilitating broken-down water points in Ethiopia over the past five years. More than 40,000 people have been able to access to safe water near their homes, drawing on the Community-Led Total Approach to sanitation which was pioneered by Vita in Ethiopia 15 years ago and has now been adapted to water point repairs and strengthened community-level capacities in the maintenance and management of water infrastructure.

Access to sustainable household energy

Vita are using an innovation community-led approach to household energy to bring about large-scale adoption and use of fuel-efficient cookstoves in Ethiopia. This delivers many benefits for women, who are normally tasked with collecting firewood and cooking on harmful, polluting open fires. Fuel-efficient stoves also help reduce pressure on forests as there is much less demand for firewood.

Protecting the environment and taking climate action

Our community-managed land and forest restoration programmes help forests to regenerate, reduce soil erosion, converse water and mitigate climate change by reducing carbon emissions. 

Where in Ethiopia does Vita operate? 

Vita currently operates in the Amhara Region and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) to provide sustainable solutions to the challenges that communities are facing:  

Irish Aid, (LEARN) Livelihood Enhancement Through Agriculture for Resilience Network Project, 2017-2022:

We are delighted to partner with Irish Aid for this project that seeks to enhance the livelihoods of 58,000 households through agriculture. The project will achieve this through initiatives such as supplying farmers with improved potato seed, enhancing crop improvement for potato and highland maize crops, and creating sustainable livelihoods with better vegetable and poultry production. Enabling access to clean water and fuel-efficient cookstoves will also help to increase community resilience and improve the quality of life for thousands of households.

EU Cross-Border Transformation, Omo Delta Project, 2018-2021:

This project, targeting over 5,000 households and 45,000 people over a three-year period, aims to improve economic and private sector development, which is integral in supporting and maintaining the unique traditions and culture of rural communities in Ethiopia. It will enable young people and women, with a focus on pastoral communities, to access finance and informal trade markets, thus increasing their employment opportunities and resilience. The project will also work on the much-needed establishment of irrigation infrastructure for production of cereals, fruit and vegetables and other crops for other animal fodder, supporting the growth of small agricultural and agro-processing cooperatives, , and upgrading disease surveillance systems for livestock.

EU EnJOY (Enhancing Job Opportunities and Employability for Youth and Women), 2020-2023:

This job creation project is based in Silt’e and Wolayta zones in SNNPR and will reach over 16,000 people who lack access to decent employment and training. The project aims to enhance economic development and access to job opportunities for youth, women and internally displaced persons in Ethiopia. It is also building the capacity of national and local institutions to provide relevant supports to job-seekers, including up-to-date information on job opportunities and job placements, and life and technical skills training.

GIZ Forests 4 Future project: Integrated forest landscape restoration for livelihood improvement in the catchment of Lake Chamo, 2021

This forest landscape restoration project assists international, national and local stakeholders to reverse forest degradation in Lake Chamo in SNNPR. Regional and local community actors are restoring forests by creating tree-rich productive landscapes and managing them in a sustainable way. This will restore important forests, decrease soil erosion and improve the livelihoods of rural communities in the catchment of Lake Chamo. This year, Vita are working with 376 households to engage in income-generating agroforestry practices.

CLT-Stoves project (Community-Led Total Adoption of Improved Cookstoves), 2021 – 2022

After a very successful trial of the CLT-Stoves approach, Vita is extending the CLT-Stoves project to 1335 households in nine rural villages in Gamo Zone, SNNPR. The project aims to bring about 100% adoption of improved cookstoves in these households. Greatly reduced burning of fuelwood will help to protect local forests, while also reducing harmful emissions from cooking. The project will have added benefits for women and children as they are disproportionately affected by lack of access to improved cook stoves. The Vita Community-Led Learning Centre will work closely with the three project village clusters to enable us to learn directly from communities and scale up the CLT-Stoves model. This project will be scaled up to 200,000 households in Gamo Zone from 2022 – 2026.