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Getting a post-high school education is especially difficult for young people living in the rural villages of Ethiopia. This is even more problematic among the landless, who are not able to farm to support themselves. Without assets or financial resources, there are too few opportunities to take part in income generating activities. Often, with no other social security system in place, young people remain dependent on their families, even into their early 20s. It is a major concern for both young people and their parents.
|Youth group members at nursery site.|
With USC’s support, our Ethiopian partner EOSA (Ethio-Organic Seed Action) has launched a pilot program to address this issue. Youth have been consulted, and organized into groups that now rented land on a short-term contract basis. The program provides water pumps, field tools, and supplies for the nursery (e.g. hoes, rakes, spades, watering cans, polythene tubes), as well as money to buy seeds. These inputs are provided through a mechanism known as revolving fund, meaning simply that recipients are asked to pay back when they have generated income, so that the funds can continue to assist other farmers.
The program, run with the guidance of community seed bank management, has also provided skills training. Participants are now engaged in income generating activities, including vegetable production, fruit tree seedling production (mango) and growing of pulse crops that fetch a good price in the market (i.e. fenugreek and lentils).
This pilot initiative is reviving hope for young people who want to be productive and able to support themselves. By bringing participants closer together, encouraging discussion so they can share their common concerns, young people have built mutual trust and self-confidence. And most important, it has become a source of inspiration for others.
|Transplanting onion seedlings in Harbu, South Welo program.|