Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project benefiting pastoralists in the area

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Addis Ababa, 25 January 2014 (WIC) - The Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project, which is underway in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples National Regional State, is one of the sugar development projects carried out by Sugar Corporation.
The project, which will have five sugar factories when fully completed, covers a total area of 175 hectares of land for its sugarcane plantation.
Lusoru Kuta who is a native of the project area, South Omo Zone, is one of the beneficiaries of the job opportunity created by the project.
He is among the graduate tractor operators, who were trained at Chancho, Ethiopian Roads Authority Training Center, for three months. The training was fully sponsored by Sugar Corporation to benefit local community youths through working in the project. 
Lusoru, a father of a son says, "Before I started working in Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project, I was a pastoralist. I spent most of my time moving from place to place to look for water and pasture for my cattle."
After becoming an employee of the Omo Kuraz Sugar Development project, he is now running a settled and a better life. He also pays his younger brother’s school fee. According to the custom of his Gnagatom community, owning large number of cattle is a symbol of hard working and wealth. He is now regularly buying cows and oxen to show that he is a hard worker as well as wealthy. 
Like Lusoru, Tsehaynesh Yeltona, 28, is among the pastoralist’s youths benefiting from the project underway in her local area. 
Tsehaynesh, according to the custom of her community, was given to be a wife to a man fourfold older than her when she was 12 years old.
Her parents had received 38 cattle and a Kalashnikov (AK-47 rifle) as a dowry out the marital arrangement of their daughter, Tsehaynesh. However, according to Tsehaynesh, she refused to be married to an old man for which she suffered physical and psychological harassment.
Tsehaynesh who is currently married to another person of her preference is working as a receptionist in the sugar development project site at Salamago District. In fact, she says she is paying back from her salary the dowry that her parents had received from the man she was once supposed to marry.
Besides her personal employment at the Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project, she speaks of the benefits the pastoralist community obtained as a result of coming together through the villagisation program. 
"The living style of our society was a scattered one and based on moving from place to place to get water and pasture for cattle. Now, this way of living is transforming to a settled and mixed agriculture. The community has started farming using irrigation facilitated by the project. They get potable water in their village any time they need. This has reduced the load of work for women and saved the time they used to spend to fetch water. They are also happy to get grinding mill in their village," She said.
The Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project has currently, created job opportunity for about ten thousand citizens like that of Lusoru and Tsehaynesh.
General Manager of the Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project, Ato Nuredin Asaro, says besides its main goal which is producing sugar the project is benefiting the pastoralist communities in the project area.
The social institutions and infrastructures built by the project in three villages for the community are indicatives of the commitment of the project to the local community, he said.
“Prior to the construction of the Sugar Factory number one, what the project did was arranging farmland for pastoralists. In addition, in all the three villages, we build social institutions like water facilities for human and cattle, schools, health centers and grinding mills. These all facilities we have done show that we are committed to make the pastoralist community benefit from the project" he adds.
To make the community benefit more from the project for long time, special attention is given to education, the project manager stresses.
"Currently, many children got the chance of education in schools built by the project. Especially, the number of female students enrolled is very encouraging" Ato Nuredin said.
The Corporation’s Deputy Director General of Public Organization, Ato Damene Darota, on his part said, the pastoralist community residing in the area were not beneficiaries of any development for long time. The Corporation is working aggressively to fundamentally change the long standing problem in lack of development.
South Omo Zone Administrator Ato Moluka Wubneh says the Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project is bringing bright future for pastoralists living in gloomy situation for a long time.
Pastoralists who reside in villages are benefiting from the social institutions and infrastructures. “In pastoralist areas of our zone, it was difficult to get 20 students in a school. Now in villagization areas, the number of students is increasing dramatically. This shows the success of the villagization,” he adds.
The Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project has from the outset embraced the local community which has an immense significance in achieving its goals in sugar development.

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