Published | 26th June 2018

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Livelihoods for Resilience Activity: Village Economic and Social Associations (VESA) Manual

Welcome to the Livelihoods for Resilience Activity, also known as GRAD 2. This is an exciting project, and we are glad that you are a part of it. This project seeks to help 97,900 households graduate from the PSNP with resilience, by achieving four purposes:

  1. Members of PSNP households have increased capacities for undertaking resilient livelihoods.
    Village economic and social associations (VESAs) are a key to achieving this, in multiple ways:

    1. Households’ savings can help them be prepared for emergencies and go through hard times without depleting their assets
    2. VESA loans can help households make small investments to build up their livelihoods
    3. VESA discussions on financial literacy, livelihoods, women’s empowerment, nutrition, climate change adaptation, and other topics can help both male and female members build their confidence and skills, set goals, and start working toward achieving them.
  2. PSNP households have economically viable and resilient livelihood portfolios. The project helps households to expand and diversify their livelihood portfolios, through the following activities:
    1. Engaging in crop and livestock value chains. The project will provide technical assistance for the development of business plans for:
      1. Livestock fattening (shoat fattening in all regions; cattle fattening in Tigray
      2. Poultry (meat and egg in all regions)
      3. Honey (SNNPR and Tigray)
      4. Pulses and cereals (haricot bean in SNNPR; lentils in Amhara; wheat in Amhara and Tigray)
      5. Horticulture (peppers in SNNPR; onions in Amhara and Tigray; potato in Amhara)
    2. The project will also provide market systems support for these value chains, as described below.
      1. Starting or expanding off-farm activities. These activities will be guided by a business catalog specific to each project zone/cluster.
      2. Being linked to employment: this activity primarily targets youth from PSNP households.
  3. An enabling environment supports resilient livelihoods for PSNP households. The “enabling environment” is everything outside of the PSNP household itself that can enable the household to succeed, or prevent it from doing so:
    1. For example: if the market system is strong – if agrodealers are supplying appropriate inputs, if marketing groups (whether informal group or cooperatives) are well managed, and if value chain actors are engaging in healthy competition and cooperation where appropriate and finding common solutions through multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs)—the enabling environment for PSNP households’ livelihoods will be strong.
    2. Similarly, social and cultural norms are part of the enabling environment. If the norms support men’s participation in household chores, for example, it will be easier for women to engage in livelihoods, and easier for households to have more diversified and resilient livelihood portfolios. The social analysis and action (SAA) process is critical to addressing these norms.
  4. Collaboration, learning and adaptive management processes enhance, scale-up, or facilitate replication of impact
    1. Collaboration, learning and adapting (“CLA”) is the principle that we should always be closely observing to see whether our approach is working, learning, and sharing this learning. The Community Facilitator is key to this process—you are the one who is close to the ground, who is interacting with the project households, and who has the opportunity to see on a daily basis whether the project is working or not. Hence we encourage you to share your observations and your learning with your supervisor—even if you have suggestions for changes!
    2. Collaboration with PSNP implementers is particularly important. The Livelihoods for Resilience Activity is not a stand-alone project; it is USAID’s contribution to the livelihoods component of the PSNP.

Hence the Community Facilitator is the foundation of Purpose 1, but also plays an important role in achieving each of the other purposes.

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