Ethiopia has so far reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in East Africa and accounts for about four percent of the African continent’s total confirmed cases.
With only 40% of homes in rural areas with access to radio and only 15% with access to the internet, it is difficult for people to hear how to keep safe from coronavirus and to keep up to date with any news about the vaccine rollout.
People in rural areas are also usually unable to work from home, with 80% gaining an income as day labourers. The pandemic has seen less goods going to market resulting in an increase in prices which hits the poorest hardest. Lockdowns also resulted in small businesses closing and many loss of jobs.
Tearfund Ireland supports 250 Self Help Groups in southern Ethiopia. These Self Help Groups allow 15-20 people to save money each week, which can be later loaned to members to pay for essentials.
However, the impact of the pandemic and lockdowns has meant people have been unable to work and therefore less able to contribute money to the Self Help Groups
Thanks to funding from the Irish Emergency Alliance, Tearfund Ireland has provided an emergency cash injection of €30,000 to 250 Self Help Group in southern Ethiopia. This has allowed nearly 850 vulnerable people impacted by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic to access emergency loans of 1,550.00 ETB (€35) to pay for food or restart their businesses.
The emergency loans were made available members with large families, those with disabled or elderly relatives as well as those who found their businesses struggling.
Without the cash support, my whole family could have gone hungry.
Meskerm Dora is a 30-year-old living in Southern Ethiopia with her husband and two children. She runs her own baking business, making injera (local bread). Lockdown meant that she no longer had any customers and had to take an emergency cash injection loan from her Tearfund Ireland supported Self Help Group, funded by a Irish Emergency Alliance grant.
“This a remedy sent by God. Without the cash support, my business could have gone bankrupt and my whole family could have gone hungry. I am very thankful to the people who stretched their hands to change my dire situation. I am hopeful that coronavirus will soon be over.”
I feel I am the luckiest now.
Birkinesh is a 35-year-old single mother who lives with her seven children (4 boys and 3 girls) in southern Ethiopia. With the help of a Tearfund Ireland supported Self Help Group she began her own business, selling fruits and vegetables. However, coronavirus lockdown robbed her of customers and he needed to borrow an Irish Emergency Alliance funded emergency cash injection loan.
“This is like a dream for me. My children and I decided to buy a female goat and two hens with the money. By selling the eggs from the hens I can easily pay back the loan. I hope in the future to buy buying a cow and if is the will of God, open a restaurant. Many of my neighbours now say ‘Ne hailaw’ which means ‘how lucky you are’. Yes, I feel I am the luckiest now.”
I am now hopeful and confident that I can expand my business and open a small restaurant.
Zewditu is a widowed 54-year-old mother of four living in southern Ethiopia. Since the loss of her husband eleven years ago, she struggled to earn an income until she was able to join a Tearfund Ireland supported Self Help Group. With a loan from the Self Help Group she was able to start a business selling coffee and fast food.
Unfortunately, the impact of lockdown meant she had to shut down the café for seven months and she had to sell off everything from her business just to support her family.
With the help of the Irish Emergency Alliance funded emergency cash injection loan, she was able to reinvest in her business and has opened her café again.
“I named my cafe ‘Besu Yihunilign’ which means ‘May things happen to me in God’s will. The money I received may look small to other people but I know how it took me out of depression. I am now hopeful and confident that I can expand my business and open a small restaurant.”