“Sustainable livelihood intervention in displacement setting.”

A story about working in a fragile context and providing sustainability for future generations.

by Rediet Abiy Kassaye, Programme Manager Refugee Livelihoods

Dollo Ado


I’m from Ethiopia but I’d never been to Dollo Ado, which is located in the Somali region in eastern Ethiopia. It is closer to the border between Ethiopia and Somalia. In fact, it’s closer to Mogadishu than Addis Ababa, so you can see how remote it can feel from Ethiopia’s central government.

Dollo Ado is home to several refugee camps where the IKEA Foundation has worked with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to improve the lives of people forced to flee, as well as their host communities. The IKEA Foundation has been actively engaged in this area over the past 10 years.

Oasis

I took a flight over the desert to visit Dollo Ado. Once you pass the lush green highlands, you don’t see anything except a long stretch of desert land.  All of a sudden, I saw a line of green along the riverbank – like an oasis. It took me back to my childhood. When we were kids, my father was an administrator, who managed state-run farms. We lived in one of these farms, which had been established on a riverbank in Afar region or Ethiopia, which is also an arid land. It was lush green. They had transformed it into a kind of heaven and even exported fruits and flowers to different parts of the world. Seeing the oasis in Dollo Ado took me back to that time. I think our own lived experiences shape the way we see the world.

The “oasis” in Dollo Ado is the result of an investment that was made by the IKEA Foundation and the great work of its partner organisation, UNHCR. It is a big investment, covering 1,000 hectares, but a lot more could be done with additional investment from other donors and private sector actors.  The river crosses the whole region and has had a consistent water supply for the past 25 years, even when there’s drought. It’s a resource; wealth that’s already there.

The IKEA Foundation saw the opportunity, invested a lot of resources and showed that it can be done. Sometimes we can question: “Maybe we spent a lot of money, and the return might be less.” We learn from our evaluations – but we’ve still shown that even in the most remote and fragile contexts it is possible to do  something that is solid and sustainable.

Multiple benefits

When I visited the communities with UNHCR colleagues, community leaders, community elders and local partners, it was impressive to see how it had transformed people’s lives. The Somali community in that area are usually pastoralists. They don’t settle, they move from place to place to find pasture for their cattle. But because of this investment, several have settled. This means their kids can go to school and get an education and health services at a centralised space. This one investment had brought other benefits as well.

Leap of faith

We were having a community meeting and I spoke to one of the students, a boy aged 13 or 14. I said: “Now you’re here, you’re supporting your parents, your family. In the future, what do you want to be?” He said: “I want to be a farmer.” It’s rare that I hear a young person telling me that he or she wants to be a farmer. Especially from someone who goes to school. When I asked why, he said: “Ah, because I see that through farming, we can make a good living and also lead a good family.” That was quite striking. To see we are able to influence the future generation.

The Foundation aims to work with other institutions and encourage them to also come in, expand the investments, work with more refugees and host communities, and support the broader region and the country. It showed me to have faith in the things we do. Because it was not an area that is common for many donors to invest a large amount of resources.  The IKEA Foundation saw an opportunity and decided to join the effort by its partners to improve the lives of refugees and host communities.  The results from this project is now serving as a flagship evidence on how to design and deliver a comprehensive livelihoods intervention in fragile and displacement affected communities. 

Partner

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
https://www.unhcr.org/

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At the World Circular Economic Forum our Programme Manager, Annelies Withofs, talked about the Circular Food Systems for Rwanda programme which supports farmers, entrepreneurs, and businesses to shift towards #RegenerativeAgriculture and circular systems. 

Learn more about the programme via the link in our bio πŸ”—

#ClimateCrisis #ClimateSolutions #SustainableFoodSystems #wcef2024
Our food systems are not working for people and the planet. We must transition to an approach that respects the environment and ensures the wellbeing of people now and in the future. πŸ₯•

At the World Circular Economic Forum our Programme Manager, Annelies Withofs, talked about the Circular Food Systems for Rwanda programme which supports farmers, entrepreneurs, and businesses to shift towards #RegenerativeAgriculture and circular systems. 

Learn more about the programme via the link in our bio πŸ”—

#ClimateCrisis #ClimateSolutions #SustainableFoodSystems #wcef2024
Our food systems are not working for people and the planet. We must transition to an approach that respects the environment and ensures the wellbeing of people now and in the future. πŸ₯• At the World Circular Economic Forum our Programme Manager, Annelies Withofs, talked about the Circular Food Systems for Rwanda programme which supports farmers, entrepreneurs, and businesses to shift towards #RegenerativeAgriculture and circular systems. Learn more about the programme via the link in our bio πŸ”— #ClimateCrisis #ClimateSolutions #SustainableFoodSystems #wcef2024
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