Leaders with a Vision and the Ability to Motivate a Community

Benishangul-Gumuz region

By Melissa Mahama
Community Care Coalitions (CCCs) Benishangul Gumuz
UNICEF Ethiopia/2019/NahomTesfaye
27 February 2020

Kebele 49 Community Care Coalition (CCC) is thinking big. The huge planner on the CCC office wall says it all. Every resource – including 200 chairs, 1 pool table, 1 generator, 2 hectares of land, 10 community volunteers – is carefully itemised.​

Also listed are the number of vulnerable households, the elderly and orphans living in the community, those receiving support through cash, crops or house renovation. And the CCC vision – a reminder of what they are working for:​

  • To see that vulnerable children have a better life in the community.​
  • To support all vulnerable households in the kebele.​
  • To eradicate all harmful practices.​

​Kebele 49, located in Benishangul-Gumuz region in the west of Ethiopia, has been incredibly successful at pooling and maximizing resources, building assets and organising people to generate a sustainable income. And using that income to provide a caring and protective environment for children with benefits for the whole community.​

Social support in Ethiopia is provided at local level by Community Care Coalitions (CCCs) like the one in Kebele 49. CCCs are community-based structures with powers to raise money and other resources from residents and redistribute them to those in need. Kebele 49 collects 1 birr ($.03) and 6 kg crop from each household each month. They also have assets, such as communal land which produces a valuable wood crop.​

​CCCs also raise awareness about harmful practices and violence against children. Kebele 49 has a Harmful Practice Awareness Creation Committee which hosts community conversations about female genital mutilation and child marriage, and is now aiming to spread awareness beyond the village, to surrounding communities in Bambassi woreda.​

​Kebele 49 CCC has a group of volunteers carrying out home visits to support families with children. Each volunteer takes responsibility for visiting 5–10 children. Through these visits, volunteers provide practical help and can help families to access services such as health and social work support if needed. Files in the Kebele 49 CCC office show recent referrals to the Bureau of Women Children an Youth and Assosa hospital.​

​The government of Ethiopia and UNICEF are investing in CCCs as a way of ​

  • protecting children from extreme poverty that harms children’s health and damages their futures,​
  • protecting children from  harmful practices such as FGM and child marriage and​
  • linking children to services such as health, education or social support. ​

UNICEF is working to build the required expertise within CCCs to provide systematic prevention and response for children throughout Ethiopia.​

​Three years ago, CCC committee members from Kebele 49 travelled to Bishoftu to attend awareness-raising training on the harms of female genital mutilation and child marriage. They returned determined to stop harmful practices in their community and were inspired to do something practical in response.​

Husien Yusuf, Kebele 49 Community Care Coalition member​
UNICEF Ethiopia/2019/NahomTesfaye

With financial help from the woreda, the CCC mobilised the community to build a community hall. Today, the large hall is rented out to external groups for a fee. Local people pay an entrance fee when the football is showing on another asset – the TV and sports satellite package. ​

​Now the CCC compound is an impressive collection of buildings that serve the community and also generate income to protect and promote opportunities for the next generation – a children’s play area, a shop, a recreation hub including pool and table tennis, office space for health extension workers and the CCC. ​

Husien Yusuf is one of 15 dynamic CCC committee members energetically going “above and beyond” for his community and always thinking about ways to generate more sustainable income. Husien says,​

 ​“When the community works together, it’s a good experience and a good lesson.”​

 Husien is happy that the village is able to support its vulnerable families and protect children. He is also motivated by shifting the mindset of the people, empowering them to make changes and make things happen.​

 ​“The hard part is convincing people that this is possible. Once they see that it is possible it is easy. Everyone is full of energy.”​

 ​Kebele 49 is aware that it is a role model for other villages.​ ​

“We share our experience with other CCCs by attending events and carrying out training.”​

The Kebele 49 CCC compound is a testament to the hard work and vision of the community – and shows what is possible when people come together and work collectively for the common interest.​