In 2003, in collaboration with the Coady Institute and Oxfam Canada, staff from a local non-government organization called HUNDEE came into Illu Aga and asked;

  • What do you have (not what do you need) ?
  • What are you most proud of (not what are your problems) ?
  • What have you managed to achieve (not how can we fulfill your needs) ?

The community is surrounded by huge tracks of pasture land and access to river water, which makes livestock rearing - particularly cattle - a suitable livelihood option. The land is fertile in some places and farmers produce a wide array of vegetables. They also have access to an all-weather road that connects them to several towns and a cement factory.

People were proud of the fact that they have always worked well together and have many formal and informal associations to draw upon to mobilize labour and redistribute wealth. For example, the women take part in a local tradition called "deberee", where families who have heifers will lend one to women in the community without. In return for taking care of the heifer, she is entitled to its first offspring.