Helping ensure that Ethiopian herders don't lose everything

Ethiopia, August 7, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Erin Gray/Mercy Corps  </span>
    With assistance from Mercy Corps, Ali Abashbash is playing a vital role in helping drought-stricken Ethiopian herders get value for their weakened and dying cattle. Photo: Erin Gray/Mercy Corps

This is Ali Abashbash, a cattle trader in the dessicated Somali Region of Ethiopia. Mercy Corps is giving him a zero interest line of credit to buy dying or very weak cattle from farmers in drought-hit areas — cattle that are in such bad condition it would normally be too risky to buy them. It's a way to make sure that herders do not lose everything when their cattle die due to lack of water or grass.

Ali is also one of the few men who have the means to buy good-quality animal feed from outside the Somali region, so Mercy Corps has helped him set up as a trader. Herders with stronger cattle can take advantage of the feed he has for sale.

Through these arrangements Ali is making some profit, and has a desire to help his countrymen who are suffering, so he told me he's going to continue these new business practices even after Mercy Corps' financial support goes away.