Active Participation Increases Competencies in Eritrea

SEADS Handbook Location: Chapter 7

Oxfam’s Sustainable Livelihoods project was implemented in 24 satellite villages in Mai Mine sub-zone and one village in Mendefera sub-zone, Debub Region, Eritrea from January 2006 to February 2007. The project focused on seed multiplication, livestock restocking, and small businesses (pottery making, small-scale irrigation, and community nurseries) and benefited 3,957 households.

The small-scale irrigation component sought to enhance household livelihood strategies in target communities by increasing their productive capacity through income-generation activities. Oxfam, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Debu branch, implemented two small-scale irigation schemes in Adi Kudada and Debrameriam villages in Mai Mine sub-zone.

Producer participation was emphasized in the design and implementation of this component. In each location, 12 producers were selected by the community and organized into a small-scale irrigation cooperative. According to the baseline information, none of the farmers had ever practiced small-scale irrigation. However, during the evaluation, the members themselves witnessed that they were now the professional farmers in the sector. Oxfam organized and provided initial trainings to 26 cooperative members focusing on procurement procedures, technical skills on irrigation, marketing, project implementation, and monitoring and reporting. Each cooperative formalized operational guidelines and instituted an organizational structure with clear roles and responsibilities for elected committee.

After three months of digging wells, land preparation, and fencing activities, the farmers began cultivating a variety of crops: tomato, cabbage, green pepper, peas, and improved crop varieties. At the time of the evaluation, some crops were being harvested and marketed locally. Focus group discussions with the beneficiaries indicated that the production per hectare increased by 177% compared to the local varieties of sorghum without irrigation. The average income of each cooperative member increased by 3,600 nakfa/family/year (USD 256/family/year) over the baseline. The nutritional intake of participating families and their communities at large also improved due to increased access to vegetables on irrigated land. An unexpected outcome of this program was the transfer of knowledge and skill to non-participating farmers, some of whom actually started adapting irrigation practice and openly requested Oxfam to expand its support.

Oxfam (2007). Evaluation of sustainable livelihoods, internally displaced persons’ (IDP) support, and emergency seed distribution projects in Eritrea. Oxfam. https://policy-practice.oxfam.org/resources/evaluation-of-sustainable-livelihoods-internally-displaced-persons-idp-support-119443/.