The village communities of Warwara and Agaro Bushi lie in the region of Kaffa, about 460 km south-west of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Abeba. The coffee shrub is indigenous to the Kaffa highlands – situated at a height of 2200 -2250 m altitude. The region then is the very place from which one of our favourite beverages originates. Extensive zones of Kaffa, however, are among the most backward rural areas of the country and thus in direst need of help. As a whole, Ethiopia is one of Africa’s poorest countries: according with UNDP Human Development Index, which includes 187 countries at the moment, Ethiopia ranks 174th.
Roughly 5000 people live in the villages of Warwara and Agaro Bushi as well as numerous surrounding hamlets scattered over a huge expanse. They are all small farmers, excruciatingly poor, who mostly practice subsistence agriculture. This means that they draw their sustenance from what they grow as best they can; add a few chicken, the odd sheep and, when they are lucky, some zebu cattle. They live in round huts covered with straw, scattered in small groups all over pleasing hillsides – in a way it reminds one of the Swiss Jura.
The dark reality of the place belies this idyllic image: the living conditions of the inhabitants are most precarious. You’ll hardly find even the most basic medical support or rural health facilities. The only elementary school is overcrowded (900 children, grouped in eight classes); the closest secondary school is four hours away. The villages we support hardly have any infrastructure: there is no electricity, no access to drinkable water and there are no all-weather roads. The nearest link to the outside world is the mule-track to Wushwush. From the valley below one must climb five to six hours to reach the area.
Under such conditions their plight is close to intolerable: mortality rates among child-bearing women is ten times higher than for the country as a whole – where such rates are exceedingly high to begin with. Peri-natal mortality and death rates for children under 5 is way above the national average.
The conditions for basic education are not much better: Only 29% of the children complete elementary school; less than 10% of teenagers – mostly boys – manage to obtain a secondary school certificate.
As the only non-governmental organization in the area SAED ETIOPIA is engaged, in collaboration with its local project partners and the people of Warwara and Agaro Bushi, to promote sustainable village development programs. Our funding in no way matches the enormous needs of the community and their expectations. Small as it is, our contribution betters their living conditions and allows them to live a fuller and more rewarding life.