R-12: Education & income generation

Image: This innovative school designed by Peter Seiler was constructed with 5,000+ bags filled with earth. Covered with mud plaster, it is cool and most importantly, termite free.



Project Title: Learn and Earn–An Integrated Approach for Hamar Self-Reliance, Wonga Bayno Kebele, Aldo and Dele Villages

This project was implemented in 2011 with the support an individual donor and several Rotary clubs. It was first of its kind in South Omo, integrating education and income generating activities to improve the resilience and self-reliance of the people of Wonga Bayno kebele1 of the Hamar woreda2 in South Omo Zone, Ethiopia.



The beneficiaries of the R-12 project are members of the Hamar tribe who live in two population clusters, Aldo and Dele villages in Wonga Bayno kebele. The Hamar are an isolated, indigenous pastoralist tribe whose traditional livelihoods have been devastated by climate change and the loss of their grazing lands.



In the past the Hamar were able to grow small gardens of maize and sorghum, but with worsening drought, most households are able to grow food for fewer than 3 months of the year. They are dependent on food aid, but that arrives sporadically. Everyone is hungry, and young children are malnourished, often suffering from stunted growth that results in long-term and devastating physical, intellectual, and emotional limitations.



Based on the trust built with these same communities during our DevWASH-09 and SSHP-12 projects, the tribe worked with us enthusiastically on this project. The elders requested that we create a permanent school to teach basic skills needed for income generating opportunities similar to the Minogelti Trading Center created in the SSHP-12 project.

To reinforce the importance of healthy, new behaviors, community members needed to commit to using pit latrines and sanitation to be able to attend the school. The positive response from people willing to participate was overwhelming.

We created an adult curriculum for literacy, numeracy, and basic skills to support participation in pilot income generating activities. To house the school, the community helped construct an innovative building using more than 5,000 earth-filled bags covered with mud plaster. It is cool inside and, most importantly, it is termite-free.

We explored several income activities with the tribe including:

  • Beading: learning to create bracelets and necklaces to sell
  • Chicken farming: learning to care for chickens and using eggs in their diet
  • Vegetable gardening: growing drought resistant vegetables like organ flesh sweet potatoes
  • Goat skin tanning: learning to tanning skins for sale



We taught 30 families how to chicken farm and incorporate eggs into their diet. We checked back with the community 6 months after the end of the project, and found that 60 families in the community were raising chickens, eating eggs, and selling eggs and chickens. The impact of the project doubled out of the women’s own eagerness to share their knowledge and resources with other community members.

This project highlighted the importance of integrating projects across program sectors to build resilience. Our previous DevWASH-09 project was our gateway into this community, providing sustainable, clean water. But for these communities to climb out of chronic poverty and dependence on food aide, they need more than water. They need reliable and nutritious sources of food and the ability to earn income.



Literate adults   0   1,045
% using pit latrines and healthy hygiene   20%   60%



  1. the smallest unit of government
  2. a group of 20-40 kebeles


  • Funding Partners: Rotary clubs and an individual donor
  • Timeline: Completed Aug 2012