Green Job Initiatives: A New Paradigm to Create Environmentally Friendly Jobs

Published: Jul 22, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
Green Job Initiatives: A New Paradigm to Create Environmentally Friendly Jobs
© Milan Votypka

Modjo is a small town found 56 km east of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. The town is positioned within East African Rift valley; hence usually it has dry, windy and hot temperature. Three-wheeled truck taxi commonly known as “bajaj” roam the main roads of the town. There are also different medium and small industries found in Modjo, of which the number of tanneries take the lion’s share. There are around 11 tanneries in Modjo town; creating significant number of employment opportunities even though they offer meager salary to their employees.

The tanneries are also sources of controversy and anger among city residents and the surrounding kebeles as they are major sources of pollution that significantly affects the environment of the town and surrounding local villages or commonly known as Kebeles.

Worku Buli, a father of two children, is a resident of Korma Fatule kebele found at the suburb of Modjo town. He barely managed to hide his rage and anguish while talking about how he and his family suffered from the solid wastes that come from tanneries. The dumping site is right behind his house within 100 meters radius. “I often took my two children to health center once in a month because of the breathing problem they already encountered. My wife is also suffering from a heart case due to the industrial waste dumped behind my house. Everything in the areas is polluted; the river, the air and even my farm land which is the only means of my survival,” he insisted.

Like Worku, significant number of residents of Modjo Town and the surrounding kebele share the resentment as they suffered from the pollution that not only came from tanneries but also other industries and businesses such as animal fattening and slaughtering houses. While walking across the nearby kebeles, any one can experience a piercing awful smell mostly emanate from the dry wastes of tanneries dumped in different corners of the Town. The pollution not only create discomfort but kills cattle, sheep and goat and pose serious health problems on people inhabited on the areas.

It is with this context that the LISEC project came into effect. The Project was funded by European Union and three implementing agencies: People in Need, International Rescue Committee and Solidaridad that have shared vision and responsibility to fulfil the set objectives. The project aims to strengthen social cohesion by supporting local economies and social development initiative, especially for women and youth living in Modjo areas; and enhancing industrial and labour relation in Modjo Leather City.

As part of our support for the sustainable leather business, we also help local businesses that employ hundreds of people in the Modjo region. Together with our partners, we are helping to create better working conditions and focusing on the treatment of waste generated by the leather industry. For example, some of the offcuts are delivered to local apprentices who then have the opportunity to learn and improve their skills, while other parts can be used as fertiliser.

Getting a Big Dream and Aspiring a Bright Future

Famu Melka, a single mother, lives in Muda Senkele Kebele. She is now working as village agent under LISEC project which is a part of creating social cohesion between the community and tanneries. She is now a member of Jitu Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) that formed as one of the project initiatives. 

She used to work for one of the leather tanneries for four year and left her job when she seriously got ill. She recalled the darkest days of her life. “The moment when I divorced and came back to my mother’s house, my mother could barely provide enough food to me and my only child. Hence, we usually sleep empty stomach. A year before, women affair representatives from our kebele provide a training for women in my localities. She told us to be a member of VSLA group. I refused as I have nothing to eat let alone to save money,” Famu said.

“I managed to attend the training and the facilitators helped me to make my first saving daily subsistence allowance that I got during the training. I become the members of the association and beside I started my new job as village agent.”

Things changed a few weeks ago when she took loan from the VSLA. “I took a loan 2100 birr from the association. I bought a corn and teff from the village market and sold it in the town and got 550-birr net profit within 3 days. I returned my loan immediately. The profit was encouraging and apart from the financial benefit, this project gave me a dream. I started a new chapter of my life,” Famu concluded. Now she can provide enough food for her daughter and her mother. Over a hundred of women like Famu formed VSLA group under the LISEC project relentlessly working hard, and dreaming a better future.

LISEC is a three year project expected to benefit more than 50,000 inhabitant of the town targeting 4000 unemployed youth, of which 1500 of them are women and girls, including most vulnerable ones, 10 Medium, Small and Micro Entreprises (MSMEs) in the leather sector providers including Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), job centers, around 4 tanneries in Modjo and 8 other companies outside of city. 

Author: Setotaw Girma

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