Sunday, 18 February 2018

US-funded Ethiopian abattoir hopes to help herders during drought – Business Insider

By Lesley Wroughton

JIJIGA, Ethiopia (Reuters) – An abattoir located among herding
communities in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region, known more for
droughts and famine than business opportunities, is an unusual
stop for a U.S. aid administrator.

But USAID chief Mark Green stopped at the Jijiga Export Slaughter
House (JESH) during a visit to the town of Jijiga on Wednesday to
see the effects of a crippling drought that has pushed some areas
to the south to the brink of famine.

The abattoir buys goats, sheep, cows and camels for slaughter
from herders for export to the Middle East, giving families cash
to buy food during the drought.

A $1.5 million loan from Feed the Future, a $1 billion-a-year
agricultural program launched during U.S. President Barack
Obama’s presidency in 2010, helped purchase refrigerators and
trucks for the facility, which employs 100 people from local

To Green, the slaughterhouse represents what USAID can do to help
attract private-sector money into investments that boost the
productivity of small farmers in developing countries.

While at the abattoir, Green announced 12 countries that will
benefit from Feed The Future investments in 2017, signaling that
the program will survive proposed deep cuts to USAID’s budget
this year.

The 12 countries are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala,
Honduras, Kenya, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda.

Green said investments like the Jijinga slaughterhouse not only
created markets for American businesses but helped communities
out of poverty. Herders can earn as much as $80 per goat when
they sell to the slaughterhouse.

“I’m under no illusions; the development journey in many places
in the world is a long one, but I want us to always be thinking
what we can do that nudges something toward a day when people get
to take care of themselves,” he said.

“This is a place where we see some of the benefits and the
potential for Feed the Future,” Green added.

JESH Chief Executive Faisal Guhad said the abattoir had been open
for a year but was forced to close for three months last year
because of the drought.

The facility currently processes about 10,000 animals a month.
Guhad said he hoped to quadruple that in the second year of

Demand for Ethiopian goat meat was currently high because of the
annual haj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, said Guhad.

“We opened at the wrong time. El Nino happened to us and we
started again after it rained,” said Guhad. “We’re now in the
second month of starting again.”

The facility employs about 108 people from the community and
plans to increase hiring to 200, said Guhad.

In the Jijinga area, planting for the March to May rains, known
as the belg, is already delayed, and aid workers say they have
seen a growing number of women and children at food distribution
centers. The hunger crisis is predicted to worsen until the
harvest begins in September.

Many parts of the Ethiopian highlands are still recovering from
the 2016 drought, which was attributed to the El Niño weather
phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)