PSNP-GRAD seeked to bring change on multiple levels including: economic opportunities, financial services, agricultural extension services, women’s resiliency, nutritional status, and climate change resiliency, while creating a sustainable environment that is collaborative and inclusive for participants, in order to graduate families out of social assistance programs, and create long term food security for communities in Ethiopia.
The project activities were designed to incrementally increase households' participation in diverse economic activities, while also strengthening and facilitating linkages between GRAD participants and input suppliers, service providers, and local/regional markets. The program also included activities aimed to build household and community resilience by building income and asset bases. GRAD engaged men and women to promote gender equality and create more equitable outcomes.
GRAD aimed to accomplish its goal by implementing the following strategies:
Building on local traditions, the project established Village Economic and Social Associations (VESAs). VESAs were the focal point for most project interventions and provide a cohesive environment for introducing savings and credit, financial literacy, small business planning/management, and other economic skills, in ways that were accessible to both women and men. Through the VESAs, community members wee trained in activities that help build resilience and on how to engage in one of five major value chains. After receiving loans from VESAs, GRAD households worked with project support to access larger and longer-term agricultural loans from formal microfinance institutions (MFIs).
GRAD used awareness raising sessions and positive role models to improve attitudes and practices towards women. To assure structural change, the project worked with key government actors (such as Ethiopian government health and agricultural workers) to raise awareness of gender issues, analyze key challenges to gender equality and food security, and build strategies to create gender equality.
GRAD recognized that good nutrition plays a critical role in human development and long-term household livelihood security. To complement Ethiopia’s National Nutrition Program, the project provided training sessions in the VESA. Men and women learned a variety of good nutrition practices in these sessions, including exclusive breast-feeding in addition to complementary food for children over 6 months of age.
Increasingly erratic weather patterns in the Ethiopian highlands are having a negative impact on agricultural production and household income. GRAD used climate information systems to share information with communities about climate risks. It also introduced adaptation tools such as small scale irrigation and fast maturing or drought resistant crops.