Tuesday 25 February 2020



A mother of four, 38 –year- old Kedija, lives in Idora, a small remote rural village in Erer district of

Ethiopia’s Somali region. Close to 5,000 people live in Kedija’s village, earning a living mainly through livestock rearing.

Save the Children through its ‘Cementing Changes towards Zero Tolerance to FGM’ project has pro- vided financial and technical support to Kedija and other women in her village in order to empower them to engage in income generating activities and earn sustainable income.

Kedija’s story in her own words

My name is Kedija, I live with my husband and four of our children here in Idora village.We used to be pastoralists. Our livestock were the only means of income and sustenance to our family. In the last two years, due to severe drought in this area, we lost most of our livestock and now own only a few goats.

Last year, twenty women, including myself from my village were selected and received a three-day training on how to create new income opportunities and learn the basics of financial management. Save the Children provided the training. Using what we learned from the training, we organized a village saving group and started to engage in various income-generating activities.We then received financial support from Save the Children and started earning decent income that helped us support our family. Recently, Save the Children loaned me 5,000 birr ($ 167) .With the money, I bought seven goats.After six months, I sold all of them and I earned 3,500 birr profit, which is about 500 birr from each. Now with the extra money I got, I was able to open this small shop. I also plan to expand my business in the future.

Before this programme, we had no regular means of income and we usually suffered from financial distress. Now that I am a member of the Village Saving and Loan Association everything is going well. Now, I am also able to pay for two of my children who attend school in Diredawa town.They are in high school. I am glad to see that my children have enough to eat and are able to go to school regu- larly. I am also able to provide for my family. I am actually enjoying life and able to save some money in the nearby microfinance unit. Providing for my family is a top priority for me.

Through the Village Saving and Loan Association we also meet twice a month to discuss about the

most common harmful traditional practices that mostly affects children and women here in our village. Currently, the association not only helps us to discuss about savings and harmful traditional practices, but also serves as a social forum to resolve conflicts in the community.

Before, harmful traditions such as female circumcision, early marriage and child labour were widely practiced in our community. Now, through the continuous education and community awareness works, there is a lot of change in the community’s knowledge and attitude towards reducing such practices. For instance, I have decided not to cut my two young daughters. I want my children to complete their education and become successful.

Although the achievements so far are very encouraging, a lot more needs to be done especially in the remote rural areas.This is because in most rural areas harmful traditional practices like female genital mutilation and early marriage have continued to affect many girls and women.

Project background

Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) is a group of people who save together and take small loans from those savings. The activities of the group run in cycles of one year, after which the accumulated savings and the loan profits are distributed back to members.The purpose of a VSLA is to provide simple savings and loan facilities in a community that does not have easy access to formal financial services.

Since 2016, Save the Children, through its NORAD funded ‘Cementing Changes towards Zero Tolerance to FGM’ project, and in collaboration with the two Regions (Somali & Harari) has been implementing a program that aimed at providing economic opportunity to vulnerable women in the target areas to economically empower and improve their decision making at household level. In return, they can play an active role in the fight against the deep-rooted harmful traditional practices that affect girls and women. So far, the program has benefitted more than 145 beneficiaries in Sitti Zone of Somali Region and Harari Region.