Since 2009, the Ethio-Wetlands and Natural Resource Association (EWNRA) has implemented the “Integrated Wetland and Watershed Management: A Landscape Approach towards Improved Food Security, Poverty Reduction and Livelihood Enhancement” project to ensure environmental wellbeing, improve food security, reduce poverty or enhance livelihoods, improve water and sanitation practices, and increase awareness of HIV-AIDS and family planning. Using a landscape approach, the project operates in the Agelo Shenkora watershed in Metu Woreda, located in Ilu Aba Bora Zone, Oromia region (South West Ethiopia), which contains some of the last remaining intact wetlands and forest ecosystems in the country. This project builds the capacity of local communities to implement management practices that can improve the economical and environmental values of wetland/watershed resources for improved food security and livelihoods.

With BALANCED seed grant funding, EWNRA is promoting family planning and adolescent reproductive health (FP/RH) within the broader context of natural resource management. The behavior change communication (BCC) interventions are seeking to increase peoples’ understanding of how FP/RH—when implemented together with conservation interventionscan lead to improved livelihoods and can help expand access to family planning service delivery in hard-to-reach communities. EWNRA is also expanding access to FP information and products at the grassroots level in areasnot reached by the formal government facilities.

The project is building a cadre of community-based distributors (PHE Providers) and adult and youth peer educators in the target villages. Women from the project site, especially those from the local Women’s Saving and Credit Association, are being trained to serve as social marketers of condoms, pills and emergency contraceptive pills. Such social marketing opportunities can be empowering to women and youth as a result of the modest income that can be earned from such marketing activities and as a result of the status that is sometimes gained from the training and social networking opportunities.