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Medina's new food shop spells the end of migration for her family

11 December 2018

Medina's new food shop spells the end of migration for her family

A prolonged spell of drought in 2015 made life extremely challenging for Medina, a mother of five children, and her family, who live in Boyna village in Dubti woreda of the Afar Regional State. Their water source dried up and their cattle, camels, goats and sheep were beginning to starve for lack of forage.

Silhouette of Medina's familyMedina told us: “When disaster hit, I bundled up what little I own and together with my family headed out to meet an uncertain future. We lost livestock to drought and disease. I tried to save the sick ones, but failed. It was tragic.”

After staying in Chifra woreda, about 200 kilometres away, for more than three months, Medina’s family and what remained of the livestock returned to their village.  Even though Medina’s husband found employment at a sugar factory, the income he earnt barely ensured the family’s food security.

Then, an opportunity came for Medina to earn an income. Working jointly with the Afar Microfinance Bureau, Farm Africa’s Market Approaches to Resilience project, part of the BRACED programme funded by the UK government, offered credit to villagers to start small trading businesses.

The money for the loan was supplied by Farm Africa, while the Region’s Microfinance Bureau, through its facilities, implemented the screening of applicants and channelled the finances to eligible applicants.

Medina borrowed 2,500 Birr (roughly US $90) and built a shop, which mostly sells food items such as sugar, macaroni and pasta. Sales soon increased and Medina’s profits surged.

Now Medina is not only able to contribute to the family’s household expenses, but also to ensure that her children can attend school regularly.

Medina’s small shop also benefitted the local community by saving them time and effort. Previously, villagers had to travel to the woreda town, 18km away, to buy food and other items.

Medina’s earnings also gave her financial independence. She stopped requesting money from her husband for daily expenses. Above all, the income from the shop gave her security in the event of a climatic disaster and ensured the permanency of her residence.

Medina’s choice to open a shop freed her family from a livelihood totally dependent on livestock accumulation. Yet, she still owns a few goats, which provide the family with milk. If and when a drought occurs, however, she will not migrate with them in search of grass but, rather, sustain her flock on processed animal feed, which she is now capable of purchasing. Medina says she is determined to permanently reside in her village despite climate extremes.

“I am planning to expand the shop to earn more money to secure the future of my family. The few goats we own will provide milk to supplement the family diet.”

By offering access to appropriate financial services, such as loans, savings and credit, Farm Africa’s MAR project has enabled households like Medina’s to shift away from accumulation based risk management strategies, and protect assets in times of stress, thereby enhancing household resilience.

Medina concluded: “In the past, during the dry season we used to trek to Awrah woreda, hundreds of kilometres away. We remained there as long as there was pasture for the livestock. And when news of rain in our village reaches us we came home again. But from now on: no more migration!"

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