Population: 112 million

Poverty rate: 24%

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, with a 33 per cent reduction in poverty since 2000, according to the World Bank. However, maintaining economic growth and poverty reduction are key challenges, especially in rural areas. Smallholder farmers account for the largest group of low-income people in Ethiopia, with many families still struggling to access clean water, sanitation, and food. Because of their reliance on subsistence agriculture, farmers are extremely vulnerable to pests (such as recent locust swarms that have decimated crops), drought, and other climate shocks.

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Case study

Angunsh overcomes poverty and disability

For people with a disability, exclusion from the agricultural sector is a major barrier to overcoming poverty. However, one farmer is showing that there are no limits where there is a little opportunity and a lot of determination.

Ten years ago, Angunsh was a subsistence farmer trying to grow enough food for his family to eat. He has three children but also looks after his mother, sister, wife, and other members of his extended family. Remarkably, he manages to do so with no arms.

Angunsh lost his arms in a landmine accident. However, he was determined not just to survive, but to thrive and inspire others to do the same. The local government recognised Angunsh’s ambition and charisma, and selected him as a model farmer in our potato project.

This project helps farmers access quality seed, teaches new agronomic skills, and connects farmers with local markets. In doing so, it helps families reduce hunger and malnutrition while improving long-term income.

Angunsh now works as a seed producer, providing high-quality seed for local potato farmers – previously a major barrier to their production. Since he joined the project four years ago, he has almost doubled his income.

“Before the project, I did not have the scientific knowledge that I now have,” said Angunsh. “I used to harvest and take all my potatoes to the market, and my family would not have enough to eat.

“But now I have learnt to keep for consumption, for seed, and sell the surplus to the market. I have managed to change my bed for a better one.”

With his potato profits, Angush bought a small truck to help him transport his crops and employed workers to help him in the fields. He can’t keep up with local demand for seed and sells everything he produces.

“There is not discrimination because I have a disability, people treat me the same,” Angunsh said. “Working is the best solution to defeat poverty.”

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