World Council Program enhances food security and rural livelihoods in Ethiopia

Subsistence farmers see incomes increase by 129%

MADISON, WI (August 18, 2014) — World Council of Credit Unions recently completed a successful development program in Ethiopia that worked with rural savings and credit cooperatives (RuSACCOs) and farmers to improve food security and livelihoods among farming families. The 2009–2014 program was funded by the monetization of 23,000 tons of wheat through USDA’s Food for Progress program.

World Council worked in three regions of Ethiopia, Tigray, Oromia and Amhara, which span half the country, to assist RuSACCOs with expanding financing for agricultural production and to mobilize savings. The program also provided non-financial services, such as farmer training and infrastructure investments, to improve farmers’ access to markets and increase commercial food production.

The World Council program exceeded its targets, helping 44,645 farmers to produce higher crop yields and increase their incomes. The program provided agricultural training to farmers to help transition them from subsistence farming to commercial food production. Soil and water conservation techniques were introduced to target farmers, and 71.5% of surveyed farmers reported that these techniques helped them to increase crop production. Poor farmers were also supported through the introduction of higher quality agricultural inputs and training on methods such as the proper use of fertilizers and better planting techniques. Farmers were able to introduce higher-value and more nutritious crops thanks to World Council’s support. By diversifying their crops, they were able to reduce risk and saw a significant increase in overall crop production, income and nutritional intake.

The average income for each farmer increased for both primary and secondary crops throughout the term of the project. Primary crop production not only allowed for the diversification of vegetables and grains, but also increased farmers’ incomes by 129%. Secondary crop production also showed a dramatic improvement of 150%; prior to the project, many farmers were not capable of growing secondary crops due to limited rainfall. Thanks to the program, farmers were better able to survive drought conditions in rural Ethiopia, achieve food security and provide for their families.

At the end of the program, both loans and savings per SACCO member had experienced a dramatic increase. On average, savings per member increased by 89%, and loans per member increased by 167%. Through its SACCO strengthening, infrastructure and agricultural training interventions, the World Council program provided support that transformed lives in rural Ethiopia and gave farmers the tools they needed to feed their families.

Learn more about World Council’s work in Ethiopia at

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions’ financial performance and increase their outreach.

World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council’s impact around the world at

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