Ethiopia Overview

109 million *

*According to the United Nations 2016 report

22 million

# of rural population


% of malnourished children
Ethiopia, home to 109 million people, is a country prone to drought, famine, conflict and climate variability. According to UNESCO, Ethiopia is one of the twelve countries most impacted by climate change (2016). These issues affect 85% of the population, which is suffering through low crop yields and decreased livestock sales as a result of unpredictable climate patterns. These low yields result in the impoverishment and food insecurity of 15 million Ethiopians every year.

Pastoralists and women are particularly affected by these challenges. Parents prefer to keep girls at home to help out in household chores such as herding and milking animals, fetching water, cooking, and caring for family members. Many parents do not have the resources to pay for girls’ school-related expenses, despite rising numbers of households that are headed by women. Conflicts and traditional cultural practices further disadvantage women and girls, who are subjected to sexual abuse, early and unwanted marriage and pregnancy, and high risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

About 50% of adolescent girls (ages 12-18) drop out of school because of these pressures.

IIRR has operated in Ethiopia since 1997 to improve the quality and access to education for the marginalized population. The country program has strong presence in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, Somali, Tigray and Addis Ababa. Programs and activities are jointly implemented in partnership with ORDA, AWEA, AFD, Dubaf, Girda, GPDI and Ethiopia’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Regional Bureaus of Agriculture and Livestock Resoures.

IIRR Ethiopia has also developed the Rural Capacity Building Services (RCBSs), a social enterprise program called that helps as income generation wing, RCBS provides various capacity support to the local government, NGOs in the form of trainings, technical services such as programs and projects evaluation as well as documentation of lessons learned through a writeshop approach.

Areas of intervention in the Ethiopia

  • Education for Pastoralists and Marginalized Communities
  • Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate change Adaptation
  • Rural Capacity Building Services  (RCBS)

What we do

  • Improve students learning achievement and retention in school
  • Link pastoralists livelihoods with market
  • Build government capacity in Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture (NSA)
  • Build capacity of communities and their peer organizations in DRR and CCA competencies


Over the past 5-10 years in Ethiopia, IIRR has successfully achieved significant milestones.

  • Over 110,000 pastoral children enjoyed access to equitable quality preschool and primary school education. Of these, 2,000 girls were kept from dropping out of school through the Goats4Girls initiative.
  • Over 50,000 pastoralists reached through 40 women and youth livestock enterprises to strengthen livestock market linkage in Southern Ethiopia.
  • Over 1,000 girls were provided refuge in girls’ hostels,
  • 16,000 businesswomen improved their business
  • Over 500 schools were fitted with solar panels to provide reading facility for teachers and students,
  • 9,600 heads of household improved their income by 50% through effective and gender equitable productive resources utilization.
  • Finally, 40 women and youth enterprise groups were established to strengthen livestock market linkage benefiting over 50,000 pastoralists.
  • The Chembie Girls hostel was upgraded and now accommodates 72 girls at once for a cycle of two years in two buildings. The hostel previously accommodated only 48 girls.

Ongoing projects

  • Enhancing Market Response to Resilience in livestock value chain in Eastern Africa (CLI-MARK)
  • Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) Capacity Strengthening for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and Six Regional
  • Improving Second Cycle Primary School Students' Retention and Learning Achievement in Pastoral Communities of Ethiopia
  • Bio intensive Gardening: It is a school gardening intervention in a BIG approach.
  • Goats for girls project: a project to support economically challenged girls to come to school and continue their education.  
  • Girls hostel development project: it is a project intended to provide space for secondary school girls traveling long distance from and to their village homes. The hostel is also linked with BIG intervention to support their food and nutritional needs. 

Kenya Overview

43.5 milion *

*According to the United Nations Development Program report

22 million

# of rural population


% of sexual or physical violence against women
In Kenya, many pastoralist children traditionally serve as herders and parents prefer to keep them at home instead of paying costly school fees to send them to school. Most basic education systems available to pastoralists are characterized by limited access, gender inequality, low retention, and poor infrastructure.

Girls face many challenges to attain an education, like pushback from parents and vulnerability to sexual abuse and abduction. Kenyan women remain disadvantaged economically, and in access to education, health services, and in exercising their rights.

The enduring influence of traditional culture has limited women’s decision-making power and access to resources. Socialization, norms and the stereotyping of women and men, including through the media, has reinforced the tendency for decision-making and conflict management initiatives to remain primarily male dominated. Thirty-nine percent of women report experiencing physical or sexual violence while literacy levels between men and women differ, with 30% of women illiterate compared to 14% of men.
Since 1995, IIRR supports pastoralists in partnership with the national government, local communities and other civil society organizations. We work with partners to ensure access to quality education and offer opportunities for girls to in pastoralist areas to continue their education while getting the chance to be economically independent and contributing to their household income.

IIRR develops a flexible education curriculum—mobile schools, evening classes, ample materials and review—to fit with pastoral mobility patterns and allows children to help with their families.

Areas of intervention in Kenya

  • Education for Pastoralists and Marginalized Communities
  • Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate change Adaptation

What we do

Since 1995, IIRR has been supporting Kenya to address the challenges on education, food insecurity, and climate change. Specifically IIRR areas of intervention are:

  • Education for pastoralists and other marginalized groups through partnerships with the national government, other civil society organization local communities
  • Access to quality basic education for out-of-school children in pastoralist areas
  • Develop flexible education curriculum—mobile schools, evening classes, ample materials and review—that fits with pastoral mobility patterns and allows their children to help with daily chores.
  • Implement the Goats4Girls program, through which girls are gifted a goat as a path to economic independence and contribution to the household budget. Through IIRR’s Goats4Girls program, girls are gifted a goat that is expected to enable her to continue school economically independent while also contributing to her household economy.
  • Integrate water and sanitation hygiene, food and income generation activities, facilitating market led pastoralists livestock value chains, addressing sexual gender based violence and climate change mitigation and adaptation, which all help to support the fulfillment of the education needs of pastoralist’s children.


In the past 5 – 10 years, the various IIRR programs in Kenya benefitted over 247,000 pastoralists in Northern Kenya

  • 100,000 girls and parents benefited through education is cool campaign
  • 17,000 girls and 12,000 parents benefitted through IIRR Kenya program interventions of giving girls a second chance in education
  • Over 65,000 learners are benefitting from school’s infrastructure constructed by IIRR including 2 hostels, 14 classrooms, 42 ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, 33 rain water harvesting tanks, 33 schools installed with energy saving stoves and 25 classrooms installed with solar lighting
  • The Goat4Girls program has since enabled over 10,000 students to continue their education and be economically independent while also contributing to their household income.
  • At least 28,000 people in pastoral communities have increased their knowledge against gender-based violence and now participating to protect girls and women
  • At least 25,000 pastoralists are improving their household income through market led livestock value chain project in Northern Kenya

South Sudan Overview

12.34 milion *

*According to the United Nations Development Program report

6.35 million

# of food insecure population


% of poverty rate
South Sudan is the youngest country in Africa. The country received independence on 9th July 2011. The number of states has increased from 10 to 32 states with a projected population of 12.8 million. At least 75% of the populations are pastoralists/agro-pastoralists, with 25% entirely engaged in agriculture.

The country, with its vast natural resources and favorable ecological conditions, has immense potential for sustainable economic development. About 50% of the total land surface is prime agriculture land.

Unfortunately, South Sudan faces a number of challenges. It relies heavily on unpredictable rainfall. It has widespread poverty attributed to low purchasing power with high inflation, skewed income distribution, and inadequate delivery of social services. Large segment of the population is displaced due to inter and intra communal conflicts and cattle raiding. This has slowed the progress of food security
initiatives and agriculture sector recovery and rehabilitation.

To contribute to the improvement of the food and nutrition security and peace in South Sudan, IIRR is implementing four core interventions in the country; Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG) in schools, Integrated Pastoral Livelihoods, Education Field Schools, and Community- Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR).

Areas of intervention in South Sudan

  • Education for Pastoralists and Marginalized Communities
  • Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate change Adaptation

What we do

  • Provide pastoralists with tools to improve their livelihoods.
  • Promote Bio-Intensive Gardening programs in schools to teach climate-resilient agricultural skills and healthy nutritional practices.
  • Establish village community banks to provide entrepreneurs, farmers and small business owners       


Since 2012, IIRR has been supporting South Sudan to address the rural poor communities. Over 25,000 pastoralists benefited from our program. Over 2,000 school children learned gardening skills, benefiting 10,000 internally displaced people and giving 11,500 households access to seeds. A total of 3,000 agro-pastoralists were organized to foster livelihood diversification.100,000 girls and parents benefited through education is cool campaign

  • In partnership with the Presbyterian Hunger Project to promote the BIG in 10 schools to facilitate life skills transfer. 400 children (8-13 years old) were mobilized in agriculture clubs, trained and equipped with basic skills in vegetable growing and marketing. 10 target schools have designated portions of land for demonstration. The plots are also used for learning during practical science lessons.
  • In partnership with the UNFAO to implement the Agro- Pastoral Community Resilience Programmes. In 2016, there was a need to integrate literacy and numeracy in the pastoral livelihood programmes. From September 2016 – October 2018, IIRR partnered with FAO/UNESCO to pilot a 2-year Pastoral Livelihoods and Education Field School (PLEFS) programmes. It has 3 modules each one is designed for a period of 9 months. Once a learner has completed all the modules, he/she can enroll in the mainstream primary school.
  • 240 (180 female, 60male) were mobilized into Village Community Banking Groups and supported with business skills to boost local investment. 8 groups completed the first cycle of saving at least 1,300,000 South Sudanese Pound ($8000). The beneficiaries are investing the dividends in individual income-generating activities and supporting their children with basic needs.

Uganda Overview

38.4 million *

*According to the Worldbank 2017

8 million

# of rural population


% of poverty rate
Endowed with signifacant natural resources such as a fertile land and mineral deposits, Uganda is located in East Africa with an estimated population of 38.4 million (51% female) and a 4.6 percent annual growth rate.16.6% of the Ugandan population is between the ages of 15-24. Out of an estimated 16.8 million children, 7.5 million live in poverty.

For almost 20 years, pastoralist communities in North East and Karamoja, Northern Uganda regions have been suffering from armed conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Climate change impacts aggravate the living condition affecting the production and productivity of smallholder farmers, making it even more difficult for women and youth to complete educational programs. (UNICEF, FAO). The province has the lowest education enrollment and completion rates in the country. Only 2.3% of girls and 2.8% of boys in Karamoja enroll in school.

Since 2006, IIRR has worked with the learning communities, farmer groups and producer organizations in Uganda to strengthen agricultural commercialization.

In 2018, the Global Land Tool Network facilitated by the UN-Habitat has partnered with IIRR to implement a projet that will secure the land tenure and boost the production increase food security among rural por smallholder farmers in Uganda.

IIRR currently supports communities in Central Uganda, Acholi sub-region, Lango sub-region, Karamoja, Kabale, Mbale, Moroto, and Napak district.

Our efforts in Uganda have significantly contributed to the government programs to reduce rural poor’s suffering by strengthening their livelihood programs benefitting smallholder farmers and poor communities. Activities have also complemented other implemented projects by various development organizations aimed at addressing extreme poverty in rural regions.

What we do

  • Capacity building and business development seminars on Agricultural Commercialization and Market Support to farmer groups and producer organizations
  • Mainstreaming environmental management including watershed management planning and implementation
  • Building youth leadership and agency through innovative leadership development models
  • Strengthening access to financial services for the rural poor, including facilitating business development skills and strengthening savings and loan associations
  • Working with children with special needs especially girls with learning or physical differences


The larger region is now at peace and is beginning to recover through the extensive efforts by the Ugandan government to aid reconstruction with support from IIRR Uganda country program.

Education Program: “Giving Girls a Second Chance in Education”

  • 13 (2 secondary & 11 Primary) Schools supported in Moroto and Napak districts, Karamoja sub region, to enhance learners’ performance in education
  • 9,081 (4425 boys and 4656 girls) learners were enrolled in the 13 target schools.
  • 64 (45 males 19 females) teachers were trained in child centred interactive teaching approaches and assessment strategies.
  • The capacity of 44 (16 females, 28 males) examination panelists was enhanced to support close monitoring of the syllabus coverage.
  • The number of children with special needs increased from 112 in 2017 to 187 in 2018.
  • 3 computers with Job Access with Speech (JAWS) for the blind were installed in Kangole Girls’ Primary school for use by learners with hearing impairment.
  • 1,204 reference text books were provided to Kangole Girls’ secondary schools and  5 primary schools in  Ngoleriet cluster school to improve  teaching and learning process.

Youth Opportunity and Leadership project

  • Youth Leadership project benefitted 3,206 Boys and 2,136 girls in 30 schools, Northern Uganda
  • 2,612 Boys and 1740 girls were mentored and coached by the Patrons on essentials of Leadership.
  • 10,765 (6420 boys and 4345 girls) students in 30 schools were mentored and coached in community service oriented leadership.
  • 4,000 students in 15 schools were equipped with co- curricular leadership kits including 46 foot balls, 33 Netballs, 17 volley balls, 25 volley ball nets, Television screens which the young people are using to engage in productive leadership activities.

Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP)

IIRR continued to work with 400 Farmer groups in 6 districts in Acholi region.

10,805 (6913F 3892M) community members directly benefitted in VODP

  • 12,000 farmers organized in 400 Farmer groups trained in institutional strengthening and developed vision road journey and constitutions for good governance.
  • Farmer Groups’ Savings and Loans Associations were strengthened, giving total savings of Ugx 3,941,115,400 (USD 1,065,166)
  • 780 farmers (in 26 Farmer groups) were linked to financial institutions including banks such as; DFCU, post bank and village bank, with a loan portfolio worth 293,198,000 /= (USD 79,242)
  • 325 farmers were able to procure oxen, 180 farmer groups linked for tractor hire services and 180 pairs of oxen procured for animal traction hire among farmers.

Project for Financial Inclusion in Rural Areas (PROFIRA)

  • IIRR enrolled 311 Community Savings and Credit Groups (CSCGs) under PROFIRA and registered 280 with the local governments, Linked 250 Groups to NGOs, economic operators, and local development organizations to access input and output markets.
  • 9,160 members were trained Financial Literacy and basic Business Development skills like book keeping, marketing, value addition, entrepreneurship, and personal financial Management
  • 120 CSCG were trained and linked to formal financial Institutions (FFIs) to access savings products for the security of their savings.
  • 260 mature CSCGs were trained and supported to form clusters and cooperatives to boost their agricultural productivity and sales.
  • 145 CSCGs have done cash carry-overs and reinvestment of over 60,000,000 as accumulated owners’ equity

Enterprise Development Assistance for Women Entrepreneurs in Kampala and Gulu Districts

  • 250 Women entrepreneurs were linked to women friendly financial institutions and products and a loan worth USD 130,137.5 (UGX 520, 550,000) was accessed.
  • 333 women entrepreneurs were mentored in sustainable business practices and 203 are now sustainably running their businesses using the skills and knowledge.
  • 355 women entrepreneurs’ capacities were built in agro value addition (tomato sauce making, briquette making, cassava processing, starch extraction, mushroom growing, processing and poultry farming and 250 own the enterprises as their business and it has reduced the cost of production per unit kilogram from 3237/= (about 1 dollar)  to 1,163/=(less than half a dollar)

Securing Land Tenure for Improved Food Security

  • 4,000 small holder farmers were sensitized on land rights and customary land registration process.
  • 145 Local Council leaders including women councilors, youth representatives were equipped with knowledge and skills in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
  • 37 land related conflicts have been resolved leading to harmony and increased agricultural production.
  • 815 local leaders were trained in Gender & land administration.
  • Land belonging to 1,048 Households was mapped, registered and issued with Certificates of Customary Land Ownership (CCOs)
  • Over 1,000 households in Kabale district received Certificates of Customary land Ownership. The long-awaited certificates set to benefit over 2,324 smallholder farmers, of which 1,031 are women.

Ongoing projects

In Northern Uganda Learning Community (Acholi sub-region & Lango sub-region)

  • Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP)
  • Project for Financial Inclusion in Rural Areas (PROFIRA) – Phase 1 & Phase 2
  • Livelihood and Enterprise Development Assistance for Women Entrepreneurs
  • Program for Rural Development (PRUDEV)
  • Realization of Right to food through seeds and land rights
  • Youth Opportunity and Learning project

In Karamoja Learning Community

  • Giving Girls a Second Chance in Education
  • Agriculture and Market Support in Karamoja
  • Project for Financial Inclusion in Rural Areas (PROFIRA) – Phase 2

South Western Uganda & Eastern Uganda (Kabale district & Mbale district respectively)

  • Securing Land Tenure among Smallholder farmers for Improved Food Security in Uganda

Central Uganda (Kampala district)

  • Livelihood and Enterprise Development Assistance for Women Entrepreneurs

Zimbabwe Overview

14 million *

*According to the World Bank Open Data 2018 report

9, 788,000

# of food insecure population


% of malnourished children
Zimbabwe is a landlocked a country of 60 million inhabitants with an abundance of natural resources. The nation has struggled to feed its inhabitants since 2000, when low-productivity agricultural practices and isolation from global markets began to seriously impact food security.

Severe droughts and stringent governmental land reforms increased these issues and placed additional burdens on the national economy. Unemployment and poverty have risen. These trends are particularly detrimental to the environment; farmers have not been able to effectively till the land, forests have been cut down by outside businesspeople, and the unpredictability of climate change further complicates these difficult dynamics. GDP growth, however, does signal a hopeful trend toward a more equitable and prosperous society.

Since 2012, IIRR country program has been supporting communities in Mashonaland East Province, Marondera, Murehwa and Hwedza Districts, Magude, Chokwe and Nampula, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga (South Africa), Marracuene (Mozambique) and works the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization, and Irrigation Development (MAMID), the Agriculture and Irrigation Development, the United Nations Development Program, Knowledge Transfer Africa, Elim Services and LIMA Development Foundation to address agricultural challenges and promote sustainable livelihood for communities.

Areas of intervention in Zimbabwe

  • Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods
  • Global Learning and Partnership Building
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation

What we do

  • Build capacity and enhance the documentation skills for grassroots development practitioners who promote sustainable livelihoods among affected communities in Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Partner with agricultural training institutions to produce publications, toolkits, case studies and practical guides that will be utilized and distributed to smallholder farmers
  • Encourage and help to implement village Savings & Loan associations among farmer field groups, with a particular emphasis on female groups. 
  • Consulting with existent agribusiness companies to grow their markets.
  • Train rural communities in risk reduction and climate adaptation.
  • Expand an online network by creating and maintaining the Virtual Livelihoods School of Africa (VLSA), which offered a functional knowledge hub and reference materials for Zimbabwe’s agricultural colleges and smallholder farmers. 


  • 102 service providers worked with farmers to increase yields and teach basic business skills.
  • 1,261 farmers trained in different marketable skills, including:
  • 66 farmers trained in beekeeping and honey processing. 51 farmers trained in conservation agriculture and horticulture production. 100 farmers trained in onion production. 64 farmers trained in potato production.
  • 46 global NGO participants working in Zimbabwe trained in Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction. These trainings led directly to CMDRR plans in two wards, Bhasikiti Ward 6 (Mwenezi District) and Maseri Ward 7 (Beithridge District).
  • 76 individuals from 17 community-based organizations participated in a ‘write clinic’ that resulted in the creation and publication of 14 case studies and a number of additional guides.