ETHIOPIA — Half a million of Ethiopia’s most vulnerable families are set to benefit from a new US$451 million project aimed at increasing their resilience to climate shocks in the country’s poorest regions.

For more than two decades, climate change has placed a major stress on the Ethiopian economy and on people’s livelihoods.

It has also sparked conflicts over scarce resources in fragile pastoral and agro-pastoral ecosystems.

Most of the population of lowland areas are dependent on rain-fed agriculture and pastoralism, and are therefore highly vulnerable to droughts, desertification and floods.

This project will address the above problems problem by helping Ethiopia achieve Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 (eradicating poverty and hunger).

The project will involve the installation of small-scale irrigation technology to reduce dependence on erratic rains.

It will also help smallholder farmers to invest in research systems for faster adaptation to climate change.

“This new project will develop an innovative value chain approach to leverage private investment, productivity and win-win commercial linkages between local businesses,” said Ulaç Demirag, Country Director for Ethiopia.

“The approach will enable project clients to sustain and improve their livelihoods after completion of the project.”

Project activities will also strengthen range land and natural resources management and improve the delivery of basic social services so that rural communities can withstand droughts and other climate shocks and reduce asset losses.

The project also aims to improve nutrition by providing education on food handling and food preservation, and the production of more nutritious and diverse crops with access to bio-fortified seeds and technical assistance, including on post-harvest handling.

To fund the project, US$451 million have been raised. The funding includes a $90 million loan from IFAD and $350 million in co-financing from the International Development Association (80 per cent loan and 20 per cent grant) and $11million from the beneficiaries themselves.

Project activities are expected to especially benefit Women (50 per cent of participants) and young people from the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas in the Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambela, Oromia, Somali and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ regions.

Since 1980, IFAD -the lead financier of the project- has invested $755.5 million in 19 rural development programmes and projects worth $ 1.8 billion in Ethiopia.

IFAD notes that these projects have directly benefited around 11.5 million rural households in the Horn of Africa nation.