Originally published on November 10, 2014.
In 2009, approximately 1.1 million people living in Ethiopia were HIV positive. As the number of them who have ever started on antiretroviral therapy (ART) increased—more than 241,000 as of the end of 2009—more of them were living longer and were healthy enough to support themselves through work. Yet many found themselves isolated and in need of livelihood training and opportunities.
The Land O’Lakes Ethiopian Dairy Development Project (EDDP) helped to create livelihoods and improve household income for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and orphans and vulnerable children by linking them to lucrative economic opportunities in the dairy sector. Land O’Lakes partnered with 36 community-based organizations (CBOs) who support PLHIV.
With one CBO, Edelawit PLHIV Association, EDDP conducted dairy business skills training with 67 of its members in Sendafa, 40 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa. Sendafa was predominantly dependent on farming and had a high potential for dairy production and expansion. Previously, Edelawit focused mostly on HIV-related nutritional awareness and home-based care. By working with EDDP, the association could provide members with economic strengthening opportunities and expand the scope of their impact.
I am very pleased with this training; I can transfer knowledge on how to earn money and how to start a business. I am a model for the community.
In response to a query about the usefulness of the business skills training, Edelawit Secretary Amsale Tashe stated, “I am very pleased with this training; I can transfer knowledge on how to earn money and how to start a business. I am a model for the community.”
Kebede Terfe, Edelawit Manager, added, “We are very interested in starting cooperatives. This training increased our interest in engaging in business activities and has showed us the significance of dairy opportunities.”
In addition to training, EDDP had comprehensive business plans that could support clients in advocating for loans. Clients welcomed the increased availability of loans through micro and small enterprise entities.
This part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) introduced HIV-affected individuals to potential dairy income generating activities (IGAs) and provided them with basic business skills and other expertise necessary to engage in dairy IGAs. An intensive dairy business skills curriculum—including dairy industry familiarization, business planning, conducting market assessments, and accessing finance, accounting and recordkeeping—equiped clients with the basic tools to form cooperatives and begin the steps to start a dairy business.
Aside from building important livelihood skills, the training led clients to a sense of community and solidarity. For many, the training was the first time Edelawit members gathered publicly with other PLHIV. Edelawit Association member Tayech Gugsa expressed, “I isolated myself for a long period of time. I came today, because of this training. Now, I feel happy because of the training and because of exposure to the community. While I was isolated, I felt alone; it was very difficult.” EDDP’s intervention provided important social support by building capacity and removing PLHIV from social and economic isolation.
The USAID- and PEPFAR-funded Ethiopia Dairy Development Project implemented by Land O’Lakes trained more than 10,000 PLHIV with the necessary business skills to engage in income generating activities along the dairy value chain.