Ethiopia is divided into nine regions. Project Ethiopia works in the Amhara region and, more specifically in the Dangla/Gojjam woreda or district. Project Ethiopia is currently working in 1/3 of the villages in Dangla/Gojjam with the long-term goal of extending our work to every village in the district.

Access to Education

School Construction and Improvement

Lack of physical facilities and long distances to an available primary school are two of the greatest barriers preventing rural Ethiopian students from completing the primary grades and entering high school.

Since 2008, Project Ethiopia has worked tirelessly to address these barriers through the construction of new school facilities and the improvement of existing schools. These transformations establish the schools as “official schools” by the Ethiopian government who then provides certified teachers and curricula materials. To date, our work has resulted in: 23 new school buildings and 25 improved school buildings for a total of 152 classrooms serving more than 20,000 students.

With expanded school facilities scattered throughout our service area, most grades are now largely comprised of students in the same age group. The educational pathway for rural children in the areas we serve are no longer interrupted and 100% of the children in these areas have access to education and a path to high school. As well, some teachers in Dangla town with great seniority are choosing to teach in a rural school because they are new and maintained.

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University Transition Awards

Since 2012, Project Ethiopia has made awards to 288 high school graduates. Beyond helping rural students reduce the economic and cultural barriers to making the transition to university, these awards motivate the recipients to work hard and stay in school. And the results are impressive. Our first group of students (43 awards made in 2012) have all graduated from university; 12 are now working as nurses, accountants, and teachers and the remaining 31 are continuing their graduate education in medicine and engineering.

Finally, University Transition Awards inspire all university prep students to work hard and dream big! From 2014 – 2016, the percentage of students who took the university exam and passed has increased each year, from 46% in 2014 to 93% in 2017.

Award recipients are also contributing back to the school and community in many ways including tutoring younger students in the summer in preparation for the national exam and raising funds at their universities to support their high school in Dangla.

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Clean Water and Sanitation

Access to clean water and sanitation facilities at the schools has a tremendous impact on student health resulting in better attendance and productivity at school.  To date, Project Ethiopia has installed clean water wells at 9 primary schools and composting latrine systems at 5 schools.

At present, only 8% of rural Ethiopians have access to a latrine and must defecate in open fields. Culturally, girls and women learn to go to the fields only in darkness and do not relieve themselves during the day leading to high rates of bladder and kidney infection. The openly exposed feces are a breeding place for flies which spread disease.

School latrines have changed that for all students and most profoundly for the girls. Menstruating girls are no longer absent from school about 3 days a month.  The latrine allows them to attend school, knowing they can take care of hygienic needs without the risk of embarrassment or verbal abuse due to lack of a place to manage their condition.

Community reaction indicates widespread support for school latrines.  School latrine opening celebrations are attended by hundreds of people! The families now understand the great benefits of the school latrine and are thankful for their children’s ability to not be subjected to open defecation and for girls to have the same path to university as boys – no more lower scores due to absences.

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Healthy Villages

Metal Roofing

A dry home is one of the most significant improvements that can be made to a rural family’s home, resulting in the fewer illnesses and parasitic infestations. To date, Project Ethiopia has provided metal roofing for 516 of the neediest homes.

Metal roofing is well beyond the financial capacity of most villagers, but even more so for the elderly, widows, chronically sick, and the poorest of the poor. Project Ethiopia is making it possible for these households, in particular, to experience the benefits of a dry home.

“When we announce to the elderly, widows, and nuns that they will be recipients of a new metal roof, they have tears in their eyes as they thank us. This is the best part of my job. Helping those who most need it.” – Awoke

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Clean Water and Sanitation

Village-level clean water and sanitation projects have brought life-changing health benefits to 10 villages. In addition, 200 families how have composting latrines on their property. Equally as impressive is the careful planning and training that goes in to each new village water project.

“When we think of new ideas, we are also thinking about how to train the local community. Our team supports the maintenance of our projects while also training the villagers to participate in the maintenance. Ongoing maintenance is very important for the upkeep of our past projects and add new ones. Many larger NGOs set up projects without training the local community. After they leave the area, no one can fix things and projects become damaged and useless.” Awoke and Workineh

And the evidence is clear! Among our 13 school and village well projects, ongoing maintenance has resulted in only 3 wells requiring repairs. These were quickly repaired by the villagers themselves and back in use within days.

The school latrine projects have led the way to acceptance for families to install a twin-pit Ventilation Improved Pit family latrine (VIP latrine). Flies are no longer able to spread disease through exposed fecal matter and the latrines are equipped with hand washing stations.

Children led the way. They had experienced school latrines and knew there was no smell. Adults actually came to the schools to check if there was any smell.   Although there was resistance at first with some reluctant to give up the open air and sky full of stars to go to the bathroom in a family latrine, it melted away and ALL family latrines are used. Families with latrines also welcome all people who are walking by their latrine to use it.

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Solar Lanterns with Chargers

Ethiopia is located close to the equator and so the days are roughly divided equally between darkness and light. The distribution of more than 786 solar lanterns to date has provided more than 4,000 villagers with a clean source of energy and four hours of extended light to complete school work and strengthen family bonds. The chargers have made it possible for farmers to buy cell phones and charge them so they can make good decisions on crop sales by checking market prices by phone.

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Economic Opportunities

Farmers’ Association

To date, Project Ethiopia has organized and supported 7 Farmers’ Associations whose combined membership equals 350 farmers, including a significant number of women since 21% of farm families have a woman head of household. Farmers’ Associations have provided a community forum in which to explore and experiment with new ideas and approaches.

Given that our latrine projects provide a method for collecting diverted urine, Project Ethiopia naturally wanted to experiment with diluted urine (3 parts water to 1 part urine) as a source of fertilizer. We asked 25 local farmers to use it on one section of their field as a replacement for chemical urea, guaranteeing we would cover any financial losses from participating in the experiment.

The results were astounding! Farmers had a greater corn yield when fertilized with the diluted urine vs. expensive chemical urea fertilizer. Replacing the fertilizer with free and readily available diluted urine provides a savings of $130 per year; a significant boost for farmers who make less than $4 per day. Farmers’ Associations are a great vehicle to share this knowledge with many farmers and spread the information to others in the region.

Farmers’ Association members are given a $50 value economic package to boost their economy: beehive, buy sheep or goat for fattening, hens for reproduction. For those selecting a beehive, the value of honey sold from one beehive is an increase in income of $175 per year.

Farmers are freed from the need to pay their seed loans by selling their crops at harvest, when prices are the lowest. The saving of money by using diluted urine and the increase of income due to selling honey give them the luxury of having money to pay their loans AND waiting to sell their crops when the prices are higher.

Farmers’ Associations also provide the mechanism for farmers to set up a savings account which can be used as equity to borrow if needed in the future. It is a requirement that any farmer who is a member of the Farmers’ Association have a savings account. This is key to having credit. Anyone (not just farmers) with a savings account can borrow six times the amount they have saved.

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Microloans

Project Ethiopia has about $6,200 in an account in the savings and credit association that is used for microloans to low-income families. The one-year loans have an interest rate of just 5%, with 3% of that returned to Project Ethiopia’s account to grow the amount available for microloans. Microloans provide villagers with an opportunity that is not available through traditional credit channels to expand their earnings and better provide for their families.

Since the fund was established in 2013, Project Ethiopia has made 137 microloans to 75 women and 62 men with 100% of those loans repaid in full and on time. Loans have been used to buy lambs and goats for fattening to sell at festival feast times, chickens, a dairy cow, garden supplies to have vegetables for sale at the market, coffee to sell, supplies to make and sell injera, supplies for making honey beer, and supplies for a small convenience store near a school.

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