Serving The Poor

Poverty in Ethiopia is widespread in both rural and urban areas, with the country ranking 173rd out of 187 on the 2013 United Nations Human Development Index. The World Bank estimates that 77.5% of Ethiopians survive on less than $2 per day. The majority of the people depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

Yet Ethiopia’s agriculture is plagued by periodic drought, soil degradation caused by overgrazing, too much tilling of soil, small landholdings, deforestation, and poor infrastructure that makes it difficult and expensive to get goods to market. TDA’s foundation is built around serving the poor of the agricultural sector.

Population pressure

Ethiopia is currently one of the fastest growing countries in the world, with a growth rate of 3.02% per year, second only to Nigeria in Africa. Population has grown from 25 million in 1965 to over 105 million in 2017.

Families often have 6, 8 or 10 children. This ensures that some children live past age 5 due to high child mortality rates, provides labour for the farm, and “insurance for parents in their old age”,.
Only 40% of women in southern Ethiopia practice family planning. Some people practice polygamy. Population density is 781 person per km2.

Recurrent Drought & Famine & Consequent Chronic Poverty

80 to 85% of Ethiopian population (labor force) is dependent on agriculture. Good crops are dependent on rainfall. Hence, when rain fails, people starve. Due to a constant moisture deficit, every year people face serious food shortages between the month of March to August. 10 to 15% of the population in Ethiopia depend on direct food aid on top of the Safety net program.

A changing climate has led rural communities to become destitute and helpless and lost their resilience to shocks. Historically, Ethiopia had two major growing seasons called belg and meher. The belg rain is expected to start at the end of February or beginning of March for belg crops such as maize (staple food), sorghum, haricot bean and root crops. But today the steady rains have disappeared.

The late summer rains for the meher crops have almost diosappered and have been replaced by a torrential flood which means when farmers need it they don’t get it, and when it rains, it washes away everything.

Land Degradation

In the old days people used to fallow their land and farm fertile lands. However due to overpopulation, households continually plough the land with no rest, and cultivate any type of land including steep slopes. Erosion has resulted. Continuous ploughing of hill side and deforestation have resulted in severely degraded land, no longer useful to sustain livelihoods.

Governance Issues

On top of all the challenges mentioned, the policy environment and governance puts farmers in a difficult situation.

Small Size Landholdings

Population growth puts heavy pressure on livelihoods of people and landholdings. Due to large family size households divide their land among children again and again. As a result, farms of 5 to 10 hectares in the 70’s become very small to the point of no longer being economically viable. Currently significant number of young people are becoming landless and flocking to urban centers in search of work. The average land size in the Wolayta region is just 0.25 hectare.


Terepeza is looking for some great partners. Whether land rehabilitation, conservation agriculture, self help groups & economic empowerment of women, emergency humanitarian response we would love to talk with you. Contact us today. Terepeza is the partner of choice in southern Ethiopia.


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