Mercy Corps: Resilience Strategy Shows Promise for Drought-Ravaged Areas

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An innovative approach in Ethiopia provides a blueprint for aid groups

Resilience intervention provided help with livestock management and ultimately helped households to stay better nourished even throughout the drought cycle.

Dan Sadowsky/Mercy Corps

“Using these resilience strategies, we saw that families had better ability to stay nourished and keep their households functioning.

A study by the global organization Mercy Corps in drought-affected Ethiopia shows long-term resilience interventions can help mitigate the worst effects of recurrent humanitarian crises. The promising findings are the result of a strategy to help rural communities survive and even thrive in severe drought conditions. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds the Mercy Corps project.

“The drought cycle in Ethiopia is pernicious and devastating for the communities and families living through it,” says Brad Sagara, Resilience and Learning Manager at Mercy Corps and one of the authors of the study. “Using these resilience strategies, we saw that families had better ability to stay nourished and keep their households functioning both immediately and in the future.”

Designed specifically to help meet the needs of pastoralists in Ethiopia, the program includes a number of different interventions to support families and communities. These range from improving access to financial services and weather information to education around livestock production and herd management.

Mercy Corps led the five-year program, known as PRIME (Pastoralist Areas Resilience Improvement through Market Expansion), in some of eastern Ethiopia’s most drought-prone districts. By comparing households in which resilience interventions had taken place to those where they had not, the study showed that households with these interventions were better able to maintain sufficient food consumption, more likely to avoid impoverishment, maintained higher levels of household assets, and realized better health of animals – including fewer deaths of livestock.

Mercy Corps and its partner organizations studied households in four districts in Eastern Ethiopia between 2011 and 2016, comparing 500 households that received PRIME support to more than 1,000 that did not. The PRIME initiative offers a path to developing effective, cutting-edge strategies for use in areas frequently hit by drought and other climate-related challenges.

Read or download the full report, Enhancing Resilience to Severe Drought: What Works, and join us to support Mercy Corps’ work around the world.

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Katia Riddle
Mercy Corps
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