In September we finished up a great campaign raising money to support our second year investing in Self Help Groups in the West Arsi Zone. So it was a great pleasure to visit Ethiopia in late October and get a first-hand report of the impact SHG are having on families throughout the region. Our partners with the Ethiopia Kale Hewot Church have done a tremendous work preparing local churches to facilitate groups in the community and work with local government to promote the concept. Self Help Groups are a long term strategy for estabishing healthy and hopeful communities, building wealth, and using local resources to address challenges.
Here are some of the nuggets that came out of the One-year Evaluation:
- ‘The local churches feel a sense of ownership of the work and a saving culture is developing among the groups.’
- ‘There’s a healthy and good competition among the groups’ – As groups learned of the saving totals of their fellow villagers, they were spurred on to save more.
- ‘Group members have already started borrowing the money from their saving according to their need’ – It was explained that as the groups began to lend to one another, members with the greatest needs were given first priority.
- ‘The groups showed religious tolerance (Muslims and Christians) by meeting weekly in the church compound despite their differences.’
- ‘Every facilitator was a member of one of the SHG for their benefit and to encourage the members.’
- Some of the groups were slower to build their capital and begin saving their money in a local bank. But we were excited to learn that their was a 0% attrition rate – none of the groups dissolved despite the fact that three facilitators left their post. Fortunately new facilitators were hired within a month’s time.
We are thrilled with the report as well as the precise financial breakdown we received showing how the funds were used and how the budget has been adjusted for the future. Our trust in the leaders organizing this effort was already strong but was deepened by our time together. Just yesterday we received an update that 174 leaders from 30 local churches were trained to facilitate the next wave of groups to be established this year. The foundation for transformation in these West Arsi districts and villages is being laid at this very moment.