The terrible famine in 1984 focused the world’s attention on Ethiopia and the suffering of its people. But, even now, Ethiopia remains an extremely poor country with low life expectancy, high maternal and infant mortality rates, and very limited access to clean water. In 1999, TRAID funded Oxfam, one of the leading international organisations delivering aid and development work, to address some of the basic needs of communities living in Jijiga in Eastern Ethiopia. This arid region is mostly populated by pastoralists moving with their livestock in search of water and grazing. However, this way of life is changing due to population growth and increased pressure on pastures as people settle.

The integrated rural development project included water point development, reforestation, improving access to primary health care an micro finance for the most disadvantaged households. More broadly, the project aimed to help struggling communities lacking even the most basic services to develop long term strategies to improve the lives and livelihoods of increasingly settled communities. These interventions included establishing trained water and health committees, building wells and water reservoirs, establishing seed nurseries and training traditional birth attendants.

The harsh climatic realities faced by people living in this region came into sharp focus during the project when a devastating drought saw some of the project objectives redirected to help populations migrating in search for water, and to establish better emergency prevention and preparedness.