Programme Index Listing

Main implementer
Mercy Corps
Other implementers
USAID, Feed the Future
2020 - 2025
Total budget
USD $35.3 million
Annual budget
USD $7 million
External links
RIPA-North LinkedIn page

Project description / objective

To improve the resilience of households, markets and governance institutions across the Somali, Afar and Oromia regions of Ethiopia, by contributing to enhanced food security and inclusive economic growth for around 130,000 households. 

Market systems focus

Livestock production and marketing

Ethiopia, with Africa's largest livestock count, faces productivity challenges impacting over half of its households. Environmental constraints in Afar, Somali, and Oromia hinder pastoralists' market access. RIPA aims to elevate female livestock producers through market-driven strategies, enhancing skills, financial access and market linkages to foster resilience and sustainable practices in the private sector.

Crop production and marketing    

In RIPA areas, 50 per cent of households practice agro-pastoralism in unstructured markets with inadequate governance. RIPA's goal is to boost crop production by improving access to market inputs and services, partnering with key actors, and facilitating market linkages. It focuses on value chain development to foster sustainable agriculture by creating a supportive environment for growth.

Labour market services for youth and women transitioning out of pastoralism    

Facing stresses and shocks, many pastoralist youths shift towards urban jobs but are hindered by structural barriers such as inadequate skills and social norms, especially for women. RIPA-North aims to stimulate new and sustainable services at scale, which will:

  • improve the ability of youth and women to navigate a pathway to employment or self-employment
  • drive growth in MSMEs to create new jobs that will be accessible for youth and women

Disaster risk management information and services    

Prolonged drought and the risk of flooding in Afar negatively impacts rangelands and livestock production and interrupts livelihood practices. RIPA seeks to address weak disaster risk management (DRM) resulting from insufficient services provision by government and private sector systems. 

Last-mile nutrition services

Food security and nutrition is closely tied to livelihood opportunities. According to the Ethiopian DHS (2019) malnutrition is high and affects women and children the most. The core underlying causes of malnutrition in the lowlands of Ethiopia are both multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral, requiring nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive approaches through the strengthening of government capabilities.

Programme interventions

Livestock production and marketing

Animal health services
To focus on transforming last-mile Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) and other new types of last-mile agents to become market-oriented and sales-driven enterprises. RIPA will drive this change by partnering with Private Veterinary Pharmacies (PVPs). This will result in RIPA having limited direct engagement with CAHWs.

Commercialisation of goat production and marketing
To transform the structure and performance of livestock supply chains by fostering vertical integration and improved capacities along the value chain from end-buyers to pastoralist producers. The aim is to reduce uncertainty and to improve trust and embedded services, resulting in year-round expanded and resilient market systems.

Commercial production and marketing of fodder
Supporting new and existing fodder enterprises to commercialise and expand production, including building new commercial distribution channels for their products. 

Inclusive and effective milk market systems
To improve efficiencies and productivity in lowland dairy systems, focusing on empowering female producers and market actors to increase scale and incomes. This will be achieved by improving access to key market knowledge, stimulating demand for quality milk and milk products, inputs and services, as well as facilitation of partnership (market opportunities). 

Crop production and marketing

Last-mile agri-input services    
Improve access to climate-smart and quality agricultural inputs for farmers and agro-pastoralists in the lowlands, addressing the extremely limited availability of products and services. RIPA works with last-mile agri-input retailers and wholesalers of agricultural inputs as ‘lead firms’ to build networks of last-mile ag-input retailers.

Labour market services for youth and women transitioning out of pastoralism

Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET)
In contrast to traditional TVET offerings, RIPA-partnered colleges offer training opportunities based on local demand with interested students paying full tuition fees. This process is helping TVETs understand and respond to market needs - to what students find valuable and are willing to pay for.

Training courses include: driving, plastering and gypsum (i.e. construction) work; bajaj repair; network administration; mobile maintenance; and hairdressing. Courses were chosen on the basis of labour market analyses in Somali, Afar and Oromia regions, with an approach that favours self-employment, as opposed to wage work.

Local Business Development Services (BDS) for MSMEs
RIPA has launched a new model enabling MSMEs to access sustainable and affordable business development advisory services through local BDS providers delivering services on a fee-basis. If successful, it will provide a new approach for delivering last-mile BDS at scale.

Supporting financial institutions’ transformation in scale and impact     
RIPA aims to transform access to financial services in target areas through enhancing savings, increasing access to loans and investments in new financial products and services to help unlock the potential of economic activities, including livestock and crop markets. RIPA's focus is on the digital transformation of financial institutions building on the work of Ethiopia’s PRIME programme, which introduced basic mobile money services, to more comprehensively digitised operations that enable easier access to (sharia-compliant) savings and loan products. 

Disaster risk management information and services

Climate information services    
To catalyse high-quality and sustainable climate information services through government and private sector dissemination channels. In a shock-prone environment such as the lowlands of Ethiopia, timely access to seasonal climate advisories is critical for household livelihood decision-making and resilience. 

Last-mile nutrition services

Government community nutrition services
This is a systems-strengthening intervention focusing on government services. RIPA-North is working with the Bureau of Health in three target regions to introduce a new model for sustainable government nutrition services reaching pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities. 

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)

Livestock production and marketing

Animal health Services
Veterinary drugs and services are now more accessible to pastoralist communities through 18 Private Veterinary Pharmacies (PVP) and 156 Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW). This last-mile network reached 105,000 livestock producers in two years, with PVPs partnering with national wholesalers for a reliable drug supply. 
In FY23, partner PVP sales totalled $560,000, marking a 136 per cent increase from FY22, primarily due to sales through CAHWs. Additionally, three new PVPs emerged independently, inspired by existing successful RIPA partners, while two PVPs expanded by opening new branches.

Commercialisation of goat production and marketing 
RIPA has significantly improved pastoralist communities' access to, and understanding of, the livestock trade within its operational areas. Through formal partnerships and trust-building along the supply chain, RIPA collaborates with 15 Goat Aggregation Enterprises (GAEs) and 253 mini-collectors as last-mile agents, reaching rural pastoralists. GAEs' outstanding performance is evident, with average sales per GAE surging from USD $83,000 in Q4 of FY22 to USD $186,000 in Q4 of FY23. 
Additionally, four milk collectors and 205 active sales agents work to supply milk, aligning with RIPA's strategy to enhance households' income through milk sales.

Commercial production and marketing of fodder
RIPA has partnered with five operational commercial fodder enterprises that supply fodder to 738 producers and two concentrated feed retailers who sell to 2,178 producers. Though the scale remains small, two partners standout in their performance. These enterprises are vital, especially during periods of drought when producers rely on them to maintain the health (and weight) of their animals. RIPA intends to scale this to medium/large enterprises. Concentrated feed also helps supports producers to fatten their animals without the use of veterinary drugs. 

Crop production and marketing

A partnership with Hamlin Trading Plc. was signed as a lead firm partner to develop a network of agri-input retailers in the lowlands and introduce an out-grower model for certified production of climate-smart sorghum seed variety. In addition, RIPA signed partnerships with six new small agri-inputs retailers, bringing the total number of partners to 10 agri-input dealers who work to supply services and products to 21,189 customers (producers).

Labour market services for youth and women transitioning out of pastoralism

Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET)
Through partnership with three public and private TVETs in Afar, Oromia and Somali regions (one in each region), RIPA supported half the cost of new market-demanded courses. To date, 1,735 have registered for the courses and 682 have graduated. 752 students are currently studying. 438 students are paired with internship opportunities, while 106 students have already been linked to jobs. The TVETs earned over USD $67,000 through provision of the market-driven courses. 

Local Business Development Services (LBDS)
The number of trained and graduated LBDS providers expanded to 110, covering all RIPA implementation woredas. The model is still new and evolving, but there are good signs that it can be viable from a business perspective, and therefore sustainable.

Financial services
RIPA signed agreements with Shabelle Bank, Rays MFI, Awash bank and Siinqee bank in Somali, Afar and Oromia regions. For example, through the e-Murabaha loan product, targeting existing businesses has been tremendously successful, reaching 5,318 loan clients by the end of the year with a total value of approximately USD $1,270,000 (average loan size of USD $244). Loan recipients are 56 per cent female and 39 per cent of loans are for agriculture or livestock-related businesses.

Disaster risk management (DRM) services

The success of this approach was made apparent through impressive ownership and action of  DRM and rangeland priorities by both government and community in all 22 RIPA woredas. For example 91 per cent of sector offices have integrated DRM and rangeland priorities into their annual woreda plans, and a government investment of USD $362,000, benefits more than 50,000 households in FY23. In addition, 33 per cent of private sector businesses introduced new DRM business practices to stimulate shock-responsive business practices and adapt to the specific needs of customers.

Last mile nutrition services

Government and community ownership and engagement with nutrition services has significantly improved with a high level of confidence that the community structures will be sustainable and drive continued behaviour change within the community. A detailed survey of graduating core group members, combined with the Recurrent Monitoring Survey (RMS 3), provide strong evidence that RIPA is having a positive impact on nutrition, food security and hygiene outcomes for households. For example, 94 per cent of women participating in community nutrition services consumed at least the minimum acceptable diversified diet during pregnancy, compared with only 33 per cent in 2021.

[uploaded March 2024]