Empowerment, the Catalyst for Change

Self Help AfricaCase Study, Ethiopia


Birtukan Shura already had her hands full. As a young mother with 3 children, 2 girls aged 5 and 1 and a 3 year old toddler, life was already very busy for her and her husband Ashu. But when the opportunity came for her to take part in a Self Help Africa, EU backed SMART (Smallholders Markets and Agriculture Resilience Transformation) project, she jumped at the chance.

A few months back, on their small farm about 130 kms south of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Birtukan took possession of 2 sheep and 3 goats. While her husband already had a hectare of vegetables and 2 hectares of cereal under cultivation, this was Birtukan’s first direct foray into managing livestock. Getting the sheep and goats was not straightforward. Given the local demand to participate in the SMART small ruminants programme, a lottery was organised… Out of 90 applications, 22 families were initially selected.

Under the tried and trusted Self Help Africa philosophy of ‘pay it back or pay it forward, Birtukan was able to repay the initial loan following the successful delivery of some kids and lambs. One of the original male goats was also fattened up and sold on, giving her the chance to buy some more animals. Birtukan is keen to further expand her flock although, long term, she would prefer to move into cattle as she feels they would be easier to herd than goats. Birtukan’s name translates as ‘Orange’ and this is one young mother who’s blossoming with the addition of goats and sheep to her busy family.