Final Documentation

Making the Input Supply Market Work for the Poor: A Case Study From the Somali Region of Ethiopia

    This case study uses Mercy Corps’ work on the livestock input supply system in the Somali Region of Ethiopia to illustrate the efficacy and potential impact of moving from a value chain approach to a broad, market system approach, using a facilitation to stimulate sustainable change.

    Along with Mercy Corps, this study was was co-researched and written by Roger Oakeley of the Springfield Centre for Business in Development.

    Summary of results
    The USAID/OFDA funded Revitalizing Agricultural/Pastoral Incomes and New Markets (RAIN) program was designed to increase households’ resilience to shocks. The program began by working on three livestock related value chains in the pastoralist/agro‐pastoralist areas of the Somali Region, but despite hard work the programming proved largely ineffective.

    Mercy Corps recognized that focusing on the ‘core market’ (supply and demand of primary products) was not sufficient to effect change in the lives of pastoralists. Analysis revealed that a key constraint across three value chains was the underperformance of a supporting function, the input supply market. Mercy Corps tackled this challenge by shifting to a facilitative approach, working with existing stakeholders to achieve sustainable change at scale. Within 18 months, the market system shows evidence of significant and more lasting change, and while it’s too early to be sure, pastoralists are describing changes in productivity as a result of the improved input supply market.

    This case study touches on the evolution and progress of the program to demonstrate the value of taking a facilitative market systems approach in fragile environments and examines some of the organizational capacities required to successfully implement such an approach.