The Market-led Improved Livelihoods in Eastern Amhara Region Project is lifting communities out of poverty in Ethiopia’s Eastern Amhara Region by boosting incomes.

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MILEAR is helping more than 40,000 children, youth, women and men in Ethiopia’s flood- and drought-prone Eastern Amhara Region to increase their crop yields, boost family income, and lift themselves out of poverty by:

Implementing small-scale irrigation

MILEAR is increasing access to water for food production through micro and small-scale irrigation projects; water user groups and co-operatives; and by training people to operate and maintain irrigation equipment so that 2,250 farm families can grow and sell high-value crops all year round.

Planting and selling higher-value crops

Diversifying crops and training farmers to use climate-smart conservation agriculture practices is the route to increased agricultural productivity and greater food security for farm families. Despite ongoing drought – the worst Ethiopia has seen in 50 years – MILEAR-supported farmers are able to harvest two and sometimes three crops per year of produce that fetches higher prices at market.

Better management of sensitive environments

Twenty natural resource management groups are revitalizing watershed areas, supporting sustainable agriculture and building community resilience to drought. These groups are also establishing tree nurseries for income and soil conservation, and distributing energy-efficient and health-risk-reducing stoves – further reducing the negative impacts of deforestation in the environmentally-sensitive Amhara Region.

Increasing livestock productivity and income

MILEAR is increasing livestock productivity with a special focus on landless youth and women who do not have access to opportunities for agriculture. In total, 2,300 youth- and female-headed households will be engaged in goat, sheep, and poultry production, and will be trained in livestock care and husbandry.

Pursuing new income generating opportunities

MILEAR’s income-generating activities help to increase, diversify and sustain household income by supporting individual entrepreneurs to establish businesses for non-agricultural livelihoods. Businesses as diverse as beekeeping and animal fattening, baking and hand-craft selling, and various types of petty trade are increasing household incomes and providing added economic resilience.

Empowering women

MILEAR has been designed to support change in gender relations in households and communities by strengthening women’s economic empowerment, leadership and equal participation with men in decision-making. In addition, various market access and income generation strategies are specially targeted to women (and youth) who do not have access to land for farming. Village Savings and Loans Groups are a key strategy to empower women with skills development, knowledge about credit and savings, and social support.

Hussien Yimer

Farmer and MILEAR beneficiary
Eastern Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Hussien struggled to put food on his family’s table for years, and the family often had to sell off valuable livestock assets to buy grain to eat. As a farmer who had only ever used his fields to grow food to feed his family, MILEAR expanded Hussien’s skills and vision, as well as his income by teaching him new agronomic practices and what crops to plant to earn more profit at market.

Even before the large well being built next to his farm was complete, Hussien had harvested his largest crops and earned more from them than he ever had from growing mung beans alone. With the profits, he purchased a water pump to improve and scale-up farming practices.

“I hope to be a model farmer in mung bean production,” Hussien said, speaking of his plans to expand his production.

“Now I have five milking cows and I am no longer selling animals to buy food grains. I am able to buy enough sorghum for my family to eat for the year.”

With their nutrition needs fulfilled, Hussien can now fund his children’s education. His eldest son will soon graduate from university, and he now knows he can give his other children the same opportunity.

Hussien has earned enough money from his crops to invest in an irrigation system that will enable him to expand his farm to keep
up with market demand, plus ensure all his children are educated.

Project Details

MILEAR is a five-year initiative supported generously by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and CFTC’s private donors

Project Summary

Project budget: $7.73 million

Project timeline:2012-2017

Location:14 kebeles of the Artuma Fursi and Dewa Cheffa woredas (districts) of Oromiya zone in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia.

Implemented by:Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA)

Funded by:Global Affairs Canada and Canadian Feed The Children


The results

A fourth-year evaluation of MILEAR’s impact shows:


Access to irrigation

Households with access to irrigation have increased from 16.5% to 36.6%. The percentage of female-headed households with access to irrigation has increased from 11.1% to 24.4%.

Size of irrigable land

Households with access to irrigation have increased from 16.5% to 36.6%. The percentage of female-headed households with access to irrigation has increased from 11.1% to 24.4%.


High value crops

The percentage of households involved in the production and marketing of high-value crops has increased:
– Mung beans grew from 7.6% to 25.6%
– Onions grew from 4.6% to 23.9%
– Peppers grew from 7.6% to 20.0%
– Tomatoes grew from 4.3% to 13.7%.

Less monoculture crops

There is a corresponding and planned decrease in the percentage of households involved in staple crop production (maize dropped from 47.7% to 8.0% and sorghum dropped from 82.1% to 61.1%) – farmers are becoming less dependent on a monoculture crop susceptible to failure in times of drought.


Agriculture extension services

Farmers, in particular women, have much better access to agriculture extension services (from 23.7% to 94.0%).


Greater drought resistance

The average number of animals owned by households did not decrease, despite the drought, due to better availability of irrigation as well as the veterinary support, feed and vaccination provided to livestock holders through MILEAR and local government.


More savings & loans

Community members are adopting a culture of saving, and Village Savings and Loans Groups have become alternative financial service providers for smallholder farmers (especially women).


Gender equality

MILEAR has surpassed all its gender equality targets across all types of interventions. Trainings on irrigation, improved crop production, and livestock rearing are being provided to both spouses within targeted households. Women – who traditionally are excluded from such activities – are able to hear and understand for themselves the information and services. This has allowed women to more actively manage household resources for the benefit of their families, develop leadership skills in their groups, and have their voices heard in their households and in their communities.

Project Partners

This project is undertaken with the generous financial support of Global Affairs Canada.
Ces projets réalisé avec l’appui financier du gouvernement du Canada.

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