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A flour mill paid for by carbon credits

Since 2012, Farm Africa and SOS Sahel Ethiopia have supported a REDD+ mechanism in the Bale Eco-region in the Oromia region of Ethiopia that lowers greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation, while also boosting the livelihoods of local communities living in poverty.  

Munisa Kedir, Deputy Chairwoman of Hida Bira participatory forest management cooperative (PFMC) in the woreda of Goba, is just one of thousands of people whose lives have been transformed by forest conversation. 

The PFMC manage 2013 hectares of forest, and its members (345 households) earn money by conserving the forest, most significantly through the sale of carbon credits earned by reducing deforestation. 

After receiving their share of income from the sale of carbon credits on the international market, members of the cooperative agreed to start a flour mill business.  

One of the first things they did was buy and install the required machinery. Residents of Wajitu Shaba kebele will no longer have to undertake long and dangerous journeys to get their grains milled as a result.  

Milling grains is seen as women’s work, so the new flour mill will particularly benefit women and girls. 

The PFMC manages 2013 hectares of forest, and its members earn money by conserving the forest.

Munisa is one of many women who used to make the arduous journey to mill grains for her family. Her experiences highlight the dangers women face when having to make such long journeys.  

Munisa remembers a terrifying time in the past when travelling to get grains milled. 

To get teff and wheat flour, she and her husband agreed to go to a flour mill together. They loaded their grains on horseback and headed to the mill house. After a lengthy trip through fields and hills, on their arrival at the nearest flour mill, there was no electricity. They decided to try another mill house even though it was also far away but got separated from each other. 

Munisa continued anyway, determined to get flour. She tried flour mills in four different villages until she arrived at Goba town, 30 kilometres away from her home village. Exhausted, she waited there for the rest of the day.  

It was not until the evening that Munisa and her horse could start the long journey back, despite having no food or drink. Travelling at night is far more dangerous than travelling in daylight, and Munisa had to cross dark and dangerous forests as she travelled from village to village. 

“It was around 1 am when we got to near a water spring. I heard a group of hyenas screaming out loud … I had no choice but to hold my breath, stay calm and see what would happen.” 

Luckily, Munisa and her horse returned home unharmed. Thanks to plans for a new flour mill made possible by income from the sale of REDD+ carbon credits, women in Hida Bira will be spared more arduous journeys like Munisa’s in future.

This story is one of five personal stories featured in our new report Making forests sustainable: lessons learnt from the Bale Eco-region REDD+ Phase II project, Ethiopia. (PDF file, 4MB)

Farm Africa implemented the REDD+ project in the Bale Eco-region with partner SOS Sahel Ethiopia with funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia.