On 7 December 2013, Shelfo Village, (Awasa Zuria Woreda, Sidama Zone, SNNP region), Ethiopia – Pastoralists bring their herds of livestock to water at Lake Hawassa.

FAO, IFAD and WFP work closely together in Ethiopia. The Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) is one of the nine administrative regions of Ethiopia, with Hawassa the capital. The SNNP region has a population estimated at over 16 million people and the majority — 90 percent — are smallholder farmers living in rural areas. With 136 Woredas, the region mainly produces maize, haricot beans, teff and coffee, while various populations are agro-pastoralists and pastoralist. The projects supported by IFAD, FAO and WFP provide an array of complimentary support to small-scale farmers and cooperative unions. Food-security interventions are boosting access to some basic financial services, including bank loans, which were previously unavailable to agricultural cooperative unions and their members. Increased access to those services is, in turn, helping the farmers build a more food-secure future for themselves and their families. Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands (UN Secretary General Special Advocate for Financial Inclusion, UNSGSA) and the three food agencies of the United Nations are teaming up in Ethiopia and Tanzania to raise awareness of how access to financial services – such as bank accounts, short-term credit, small loans, savings and insurance – can help improve the lives and livelihoods of smallholder farmers and the rural poor.

Ethiopia is developing quickly in recent years, with a GDP growth rate of 10.4% in 2014. But in spite of significant changes in economic development, agriculture remains the dominant sector, accounting for 46% of GDP, 73% of employment, and 80% of foreign export earnings.

Some 12 million smallholder households produce approximately 95% of the agricultural GDP and make up 85% of employment.

The Ethiopian government acknowledges the importance of farming and smallholder, and has allocated a relatively high budget of 16% of GDP to the agricultural sector.