SSD’s organizational mission is support of the development initiatives of the poor and the neglected communities of Ethiopia. The organization’s approach is to link relief with development through the implementation of irrigation-based, integrated development projects.
In the past 10 years, the organization has shown steady growth, both in terms of geographical coverage and in the number and quality of its human resources. Currently, there are over 68 SSD employees. Fifteen are senior program staff with university degrees (masters or bachelors). Twenty-six are project staff whose academic qualifications include diplomas or advanced diplomas combined with commendable work experience in implementing and managing integrated development projects. Various areas of specialty include construction, agricultural extension, community capacity building, and project resources management. Equally important are the support staff members at the head office and in the project areas.
Currently, SSD operates in eight districts of the Afar Region and one district of Oromia National Regional States. SSD has an established and well-functioning organizational system and procedures that facilitate the smooth implementation of its activities.
At field level, a qualified project coordinator facilitates the overall management and coordination of activities and liaises with the local administration, development partners, and beneficiary communities. Field teams are made up of 6 or 7 people with different skills and experiences in delivering irrigation-based development projects.
Support for Sustainable Development, apart from endeavoring to address the ever-growing and multifaceted problems of pastoral communities, is engaged in providing clean and safe potable water, combating longstanding harmful traditional practices, supporting local initiatives for the provision and accessing of quality formal education, developing local government capacity, and empowering women in both pastoral and sedentary communities.
Since 2003, SSD has enabled over 20,000 households or 300,000 people to benefit from completed small-scale irrigation projects. The beneficiaries are now able to produce food and cash crops at least twice a year and maintain household food security. Markets have expanded beyond local consumption and goods are transported to larger centres.
Physical construction has been accompanied by local capacity development, increasing people’s resilience towards natural hazards. Beneficiaries have developed their own capacity to proactively prepare themselves to withstand threats in the event of serious drought and flood.
SSD has enabled over 100,000 people to benefit from completed small-scale irrigation projects since 2003.
SSD has established good working relationships and demonstrated credibility and respect with its local partners and donors, especially with its Canadian donors such as Canadian Lutheran World Relief, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and Rainbow for the Future. There is a well-organized financial management and auditing system commensurate with the requirements of the Ethiopian Federal Government regulation body—The Charities and Societies Agency—and those of the partner communities and regional government.
SSD’s irrigation schemes are known for their simple but efficient and durable designs, ease of maintenance and operations, and minimal disturbance to the natural environment. SSD’s willingness to take on the harshest physical challenges of the Afar, a neglected and remote region, has paved the way for gradual transformation of the pastoralist communities into agro-pastoralism and maintenance of household food security.