Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Dodota woreda (woreda is the second lowest government administrative unit in Ethiopia) is located along the northern border of Arsi Zone, Oromia, Ethiopia. The total population of the woreda, as of 2009, is 78,925, up from 72,319 in 2008. Dodota is one of 12 drought-affected districts in Oromia Region, with erratic rainfall, soil fertility exhaustion, population pressure, and backward farming. Within the woreda ASDA most actively works with 3 rural kebeles, Dire Kiltu, Awash Bishola, and Dilfekar, and Dera town which is comprised of 2 kebeles (kebele is the name given to the lowest administrative unit). Adjacent to these 5 kebeles is Dera Dilfekar Regional Park, which ASDA is working with to conserve and promote ecotourism. With such a large portion of the population being rural, it is expected that agriculture would be backbone of the economy. However, many households in the rural areas are landless, and many of those who do have land have trouble producing enough food to feed their families. Many people rely on aid to survive and look for alternative ways to make an income. One of the most harmful alternative income sources is selling firewood collected from the park. To counter this ASDA has worked with women in the 5 kebeles to set up income generating activities that also counter deforestation. There are 2 groups that build and sell the fuel efficient MIRT Stove, and there is 1 group that manages a tree seedling nursery. ASDA has also supported 145 women with other income generation projects by supplying loans for livestock fattening and opening small shops.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Silk production or sericulture is a growing industry in Ethiopia, and as the government looks to expand the textile industry in the country, it is poised to grow even more. Already in the town of Wolliso, located in the southwest Shewa zone, is a large scale silk production/sericulture factory. It is becoming more common for farmers to raise silk worms and sell the cocoon to a factory, like the one in Wolliso, or to one of many companies in Addis Ababa as a raw product. However, an alternative and more lucrative option would be to process the raw cocoons in a small local operation and, therefore, greatly increase the value of the final product. For this to happen the women would obviously need more supplies, such as a loom, and training on how to transform the raw silk cocoons into clothing. Another advantage of running a small scale operation, like this one, is that it would give the women flexibility to fulfill small orders from small scale vendors.
Of course a clever and effective marketing strategy would need to be developed in order for this plan to succeed. The final product would need to be high quality and highlight the element of being hand made by the rural women of Dodota. Small scale vendors are currently being sought out in Addis Ababa as potential customers. The fabric and garments would likely be popular in souvenir shops targeting foreigners visiting Ethiopia. In addition, Dera Dilfekar Regional Park will soon be opening a visitor center, which will provide an ideal location to sell the products locally to tourists visiting the park.