In 2007 and 2008, Ethiopia was described by the World Food Program (WFP) as a global hunger “hot spot,” where the food insecurity emergency had put the wellbeing of more than 12 million people at risk. At that time, it was estimated that 6.4 million beneficiaries were in need of WFP’s emergency assistance. The Somali Region remains one of the most vulnerable in Ethiopia, where recurrent natural and human-made disasters disrupt the economy and severely threaten livelihoods. At the time the food price crisis was reaching its peak on the global level, the failure of three consecutive seasonal rains had added to the hardship, gradually depleting the resilience and resources of the pastoral, agro pastoral and riverine populations in the Somali Region. An analysis of livelihoods in the Somali Region and neighboring East Hararghe zone of the Oromia Region revealed deteriorating household wealth status, increased mortality rates in livestock, increasing reliance on food purchases and deteriorated terms of trade. The same assessment found growing reports of “drop-outs” from pastoral way of life.
In response, USAID supported the Revitalizing Agricultural/Pastoral Incomes and New Markets (RAIN+) project. The program’s goal was to increase resiliency of households, communities and market systems to prepare for, cope with and recover from external shocks. The program viewed resilience as the capacity of households, communities and institutions to reduce the likelihoods of shocks and to mitigate their impact, and to build the communities capacity to adopt healthy coping mechanisms once shocks occur, leading to quicker recovery of livelihoods for future wellbeing. To become resilient, communities need to develop both adaptive capacity and the ability to address and reduce risk. Adaptive capacity can be described as the ability to effectively respond to new circumstances. This includes ensuring that social systems, inclusive governance structures, and economic opportunities are in place.
The relief-to-development program design aimed to comprehensively promote early recovery and increase resilience to external shocks in selected areas of the Somali and Oromia regions. It addressed the immediate needs of drought affected populations while also providing communities with skills and opportunities to reduce the impact of future droughts, violent conflict, and other external shocks. The project therefore aimed to prevent food insecurity and livelihoods collapse via improved preparedness; protect existing productive asset base to strengthen and diversify livelihoods; and promote market-based business models, local economic development, and economic integration and trade with neighbors.
The Water and Sanitation activities consisted of the following: