Barefoot Initiative

Project Report & Newsletter
November 2016

Greetings to you all. Barefoot Initiative and its volunteers have been busy these past months. This newsletter gives you a detailed report from our recent field trip to our project sites in Ethiopia and our activities back here in Australia. We welcome all feedback, suggestions and comments. Happy reading!


Kyra, Aidan and Kyra's son Kalki, together with two volunteers Lana and Rosemarie spent the month of September in Ethiopia visiting the project sites in the Afar region. The overall objective for the trip was to follow up on past and current projects and to strengthen systems and processes with our Ethiopian partner organisation, Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA). This was done in alignment with Barefoot Initiative’s vision and mission statement.


To assist marginalized communities to become their own change makers and leaders of their own development process.


Improved health and overall well-being for marginalised communities.

Conducting community questionnaire:

With the incredible help from our students we conducted a questionnaire in the community of Yooren to gather baseline data and feedback about past projects. Every 5th household was randomly selected, and 81 people out of a population 5465 of were interviewed. Additionally, three focus group discussions were also conducted to provide a space for the community to express their feedback and ideas regarding our projects.


Follow up on drought relief activities with funds raised by Barefoot Initiative:

As many of you know, Ethiopia recently suffered its worst drought in 30 years. In early 2016 Barefoot Initiative ran an online crowd funding campaign where over $17,000 AUD was raised. This money was sent to APDA whom are a local Indigenous Non-Government Organisation (NGO) who have been an implementing partner with Barefoot Initiative for over 7 years.

In September we visited APDA's head office in Logya. APDA staff took us north to a Woreda named Kori, which was one of the worst affected areas during the drought period and is where the funds raised were used to deliver water and food to communities. Accessing these communities is done by 4wheel drive on roads that have been constructed by APDA. Previous to these roads these communities had no way of receiving aid or support during times of crisis.

Our time in Kori was spent visiting communities and listening to stories from clan leaders about how they survived during the drought period, and how the emergency relief provided by APDA/Barefoot Initiative was essential support. The drought broke in April this year and the entire region has received the best rains that they have had in over a decade. Species of grass that have not been seen in over 10 years are now growing, however, with over 80% of livestock having perished during the drought there is a great sense of irony that comes with this. APDA continues to support these communities during this critical drought recovery phase.

As a part of our Yooren Community Questionnaire, we gathered an array of household data including; livestock numbers pre and post drought and preferred methods of relief during the drought period. The loss of livestock is devastating, and being pastoralists this is like having your bank account emptied and having no job. Please refer to tables below:

Student Scholarship program:

In 2010, community leaders in Yooren from the Angalilly Kabeli requested that Barefoot Initiative support Afar students who had completed high school to study at a tertiary level. Since September 2010, APDA and Barefoot Initiative have collaborated together and supported in total 6 Afar students. Of these students two have now graduated with a degree in clinical nursing. These two students, one female and one male, have both entered productive jobs in the Afar, contributing to the professional skills of the region.

The Ethiopian government university system has a cut off score, which varies depending on the course, region and gender. With the Afar holding some of the lowest literacy rates in the country, these scores have been lowered to give Afar students some advantage, however there are still many students who still come in under the score required to enter the government university system. For example, in 2016 only 25 out of 500 year 12 students in the Afar capital (Samara & Assiata) passed their final exams at a score high enough to enter university. This left 475 year 12 students unable to access the university system, despite completing secondary school.

After discussions with APDA and students who failed year 12 within the region, it became evident that the high number of 'failed' students was not necessarily reflective of their efforts or capacity. A teacher not turning up to classes is common practice and exams often include topics that have not been taught to students. When a student fails year 12 they have the option to re-sit exams the following year or to pursue other high forms of education within the private sector. Unfortunately for the majority of Afar students it is beyond their financial capacity to pursue higher education privately.

Supporting these students will increase the skilled resources within the region and allow Afars to become contributing members within their society. An example of this is Fatuma, the first student to graduate from the scholarship program in 2014. After graduating, Fatuma was employed by a local NGO that focuses on maternal and child health. Fatuma is putting full energy into working on the health issues that are faced by Afar women and girls and is a fantastic role model to other young Afar girls who work hard to gain an education.

During this recent trip Barefoot Initiative formalised its agreement with APDA as the implementing partner for the Scholarship program. With APDA being based on the ground they are able to monitor and ensure that the students receive appropriate and adequate support.

After holding a number of meetings with clan leaders and regional government officials it became evident that this project required a clear student selection criterion. As we have been working in Zone 3 in the Angalilly Kabeli for over 10 years, we have insight and a strong understanding of the complex dynamics of the various clan groups and how inclusion and collaboration with these groups is essential in all areas of our work. In a collective and collaborative process, a clear selection criteria was established.

The criteria for selecting students is as follows;

• Students who have completed grade 12 with a minimum score of 305.

• Students who have completed grade 12 with a score below the required score to be able to enter government universities (minimum points 325).

• Ensure that equal opportunity is offered to both males and females (this is challenging due to the low number of females who complete grade 12).

• Students who come from families who do not have financial means to send them to a private college.

• People who have not previously attained a diploma or higher education.

Barefoot Initiative completes the final stage of selecting specific students based on above criteria by cross checking all information and conducting interviews. The number of students selected is based on our financial capacity.

Update on our students:

Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who has supported our students and made it possible for Abdo Humid Mohamed to graduate. Abdo is our second student to graduate from the program (Sept 2016) and he now has a degree in clinical nursing and is working in health for the Afar regional government.

With access to wide spread internet and social media we are now in regular contact with our students whilst outside of Ethiopia, so it was wonderful to have them all at the airport to welcome us when we arrived into the country. We timed our visit over their university break so that we could travel with them to the Afar region to visit and meet their families. It was very special to do this. Each of the students and their families are beyond grateful and are so aware that this scholarship program opens doors and opportunities for them.

We also followed up on Fatuma, our first student to graduate from the program back in 2014. It was wonderful to see Fatuma, and to observe how her confidence has grown since we first met her.

We took the students to Mile, which is a town further north in the Afar region where APDA run the Barbara May Hospital, which is a hospital that provides obstetric and gynaecological care. The students were allowed to stand in and observe surgical procedures, which was a great learning opportunity for them. APDA has welcomed the students to return to the hospital during their holiday periods to do work experience in the hospital if they wish.

Meet our two new students:

Mohammed Seadian is 18 years old. He lives with his family in Buri, which is 10 km from Yooren. He has 4 sisters, of whom 1 has died and 4 brothers. He completed year 12 in September this year. His father works as a farm labourer for an investor and his mother is a pastoralist. His dream for the future is to have an education in health so that he can work and assist his community. Mohammed will be studying a degree in public health.

Khamil Mansure is in his mid-twenties. He did his diploma in nursing at Samara university and then worked as a nurse in the Yooren health post for over 3 years. He is married and has 1 daughter. He feels that with just a diploma his knowledge and capacity is limited, especially for single post low resourced settings as he has experienced first-hand. He is looking forward to strengthen his health knowledge and hopes that with this opportunity he will be able to return to the Afar region as a more skilled health professional. Khamil will be studying a degree in Public health. Khamil is also an exception to the current selection criteria as he was selected over a year ago but was unable to start studying immediately due to his family situation.

Water carts:

Over $5000 was raised in 2015-16 to go specifically towards water carts. A special thank you to all the year 8 students from Salisbury High School who continue to run an annual fundraising event to support this project. This year 50 more water carts were made and delivered to the community.

After holding a community meeting in 2014, it was decided that 1 water cart for every 3 household (HH) would be ideal. The community has an estimated 546 HH (2016 Health Post records). To reach our target we need a further 85 water carts. Each water cart costs approximately $110 AUD.


Community Agricultural Cooperative:

Despite the devastation of the drought, the majority of members from the cooperative still managed to harvest 1 annual crop of maize, as opposed to 2 annual crops, which is the average harvest for a normal year. The community expressed how the garden not only provided them with food, but how the husks and stalks from their crops became much needed feed for their livestock during the drought. On arrival into the community, people were starting to plough and prepare the land for planting. The cooperative is registered with the regional government and has its own recognised bank account. This makes it more transparent and mitigates risk for misuse of cooperative funds.

The model used to establish this cooperative has become a highly regarded model, with officials from the government and private Afar land owners visiting Yooren to meet the Cooperative leadership. Visitors have been seeking advice and support on how best to replicate the model to support other Afar controlled farms within the region. Below is a graph that shows Afar run farms in the Yooren/Angalilly Kabeli . This is a great example of how 1 project that was nurtured through difficult times over a decade is now independent and inspiring positive change and progress.


There is a total of 6 members to this women's income generating cooperative, which is divided into the 3 different clan groups. They work on a 3 month rotational roster. During the drought period no one had cash to spend so stock expired and the clan group that was responsible during this period lost a lot of money. It has been a struggle since then to break even, but with income now coming in from community members working on the cotton farms, the questionnaire indicated that 77% of people within the community use the shop.

We asked the women if they still wanted to work in Molta. The members still felt that it was worth their while, making a small income approx. $1 a day, plus raw material benefits. The daily wage for working on the cotton farms surrounding the village is approximately $2 per day. Working in Molta is much preferred by the women in comparison to the harsh and physically demanding work in the fields.

Health Post:

A young Afar man named Mohammed is the new nurse at the Yooren health post. It is Mohammed's first year out after completing his diploma in nursing in September 2015. It was wonderful to see that the health post was being run as effectively as it can with the few resources it has. Mohammed is passionate about his work, and it was obvious through observation that he takes a great sense of care and pride in his work, and he has gained trust from the community. It was great to see that the clinic now has a solar powered system that powers a vaccination fridge, this was donated by an NGO.

The Ethiopian government has implemented an ambulance service to bring birthing mothers from remote communities via health posts to health centres. Although this is not always possible or straight forward, it was great to see this service being accessed while we were there.

In the questionnaire community members were asked whether they thought health had improved in the community since the construction of the health post. People were also asked questions in relation to gender disparity and their health seeking behaviors. Refer to tables below.

Project Expenditures:


Since our organisation restructure in 2015 we have worked to re-evaluate our logo. We had to break down the old logo and question what it meant and what it should symbolize and represent. We had the very generous support from Adelaide based graphic designer Nick Briz, who from our ideas was able to create our new logo. We hope you love it as much as we do.


We have an exciting fundraiser coming up on the 18th of November in Adelaide. There will be drinks, food, live music and more. For details and to book click on this link

Humanities teacher Evan Polymeneas who runs an annual water walk at Salisbury High School with the year eight students raised $817 for 2016. The year eight student's names were painted onto the 50 new water carts that were provided to the community.

A massive thank you to Niki Macri who held a private fundraising event and raised $2025.

We are also very grateful to Patricia Beattie from Alice springs who raised $1330 with a group of students from a workshop at a Yoga school.

Long term loyal supporters, Sue and Doug March have come up with creative ways each year to raise funds by selling gift cards, excess fruit and veg from their incredible garden, to polishing shoes on the main street of Willunga. It is these gestures of kindness that tie communities together and make us feel so grateful to be able to do this work.

No one at Barefoot Initiative is paid a salary. The entire organisation runs on the good will of its volunteers and the generosity of the wider community. We thank you all for your continued support and generosity that makes our work possible.


We have donation boxes on counter tops throughout cafes and local south Australian businesses. If you work/own a cafe or business where you think a donation box would work, and you are happy to have one for us, please contact us at


With Christmas creeping up on us, we are offering gift ideas that will support women and students in Ethiopian communities. For those who are interested click on the link below