The community didn't stop at composting. Four irrigation committees were established to harvest water, and arrange for its distribution. The land, now fertile, was perfect for engaging in the production of potato, onion, cabbage, maize, barley and wheat. Potato cultivation has become so profitable that they have now formed a cooperative and have rehabilitated and irrigated communal land using their traditional knowledge of river diversion and revived an age old water allocation tradition to harvest and sell the crop collectively. This has earned the group more than $3000 in profits this year alone, which is significant in a country where the average annual household income is $90 They also recently built a potato storage unit using their own resources entirely except for the supply of corrugated iron sheets for the roof. (continue reading below map)


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The group's environmental rehabilitation efforts - especially in composting - are recognized as being the best in the region. In fact, they have been named a model community by the Regional President. These successes have led to the realization that working together bears more fruit than working alone and the village now has five fully functioning cooperatives - all licensed by the government, which is not common in the area.

One of the fastest growing of these is a dairy cooperative, which was started by 19 women from the local "deberee" association, who saw the potential of this type of initiative while mapping their large tracks of pasture land - perfect for cattle grazing and milk production. With the new road, maybe they could tap into markets in Addis as well as those at the nearby cement factory? Over time, the community became more and more interested in the idea. Realizing that this was a much larger undertaking than they could do on their own, they asked for HUNDEE and Oxfam Canada's support - who then linked them with other actors working in the dairy sector for technical assistance. They also provided some financial support to build a milk collection centre - using the community's own labour, materials and some small savings they collected through registration fees. The cooperative has since grown to include 192 members.