2021
Annual Report

In the face of ongoing challenges, we forged ahead with commitment and hope. From emergency relief to planet-positive strategies, Glimmer is learning, adapting and expanding our model to meet the needs of families in rural Ethiopia. And we are seeing results.

Country Director, Gebrehiwot Reta

Letters From Leadership

Responding to the
Needs of Ethiopia

From the Country Director, Gebrehiwot Reta

As the world continued to face uncertainties with Covid in 2021, the political conflict raged on in Ethiopia with severe and growing humanitarian needs in Tigray and neighboring regions. Alongside our planned work, Glimmer continued our efforts to provide emergency relief and stabilize communities. We provided food support to communities facing hunger and displacement, and we remain ready to support deepening needs in the country.

Despite delays, economic instability, and emotional exhaustion, Glimmer continued implementing our multi-year projects in Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR. Our staff met with community members and partners, monitored progress, and collected and analyzed valuable data. Locally hired community facilitators provided one-on-one support to farmers, even when the conflict intermittently paused travel for Glimmer staff. And our work is paying off: we are seeing farming families that are stable, building their livelihoods from their own land—even in the face of crises.

With floods and droughts increasing in frequency and severity, Glimmer launched a pilot project with the IKEA Foundation to test circular agriculture and planet-positive livelihoods development. Glimmer staff spent months researching, discussing with peer organizations, and participating in and hosting trainings to explore the impacts of climate change on rural farming communities and design the pilot project. We envision a model of poverty alleviation that restores the planet so that the people can work with the land for generations to come.

As we responded to the crises, continued our work and took risks to evolve, my colleagues have not faltered. Our country is under great duress. Yet, my team continues to show up day after day, driven by the extreme need and encouraged by the results we are seeing from our work. Glimmer’s efforts are profoundly necessary, and we will continue to collaborate with our partners, local governments and rural communities to support their stability and growth.

CEO, Alicyn Yarbrough

Letters From Leadership

How We Grow
Through Crisis

From the CEO, Alicyn Yarbrough

As I reflect on 2021, the challenges facing the world and Ethiopia have been beyond anything I could have imagined. The unforeseen political conflict, environmental crises and economic instability have continued to rattle Ethiopia. And challenges will keep coming. The most vulnerable communities are hit the hardest, which further fuels poverty, disrupts lives and displaces people.

While daunting, Glimmer has not wavered in our efforts. We have not recoiled in fear or uncertainty. Rather, we have expanded our reach so that we can support sustainable futures for generations to come. Our work in 2021, from providing emergency relief to exploring planet-positive solutions, is helping farming families cope with crisis, improve food security, grow household assets, and regenerate the land—all important indicators of individual, communal and environmental resilience.

We are seeing signs that our approach is working—even in the face of Covid and the conflict. Glimmer launched implementation in the rural Amhara community of Libo Kemkem prior to the pandemic. This project proved to be an important testing ground for our updated model to support the most vulnerable. In 2021, we found that hunger decreased, households were saving more, and expectant mothers were seeking medical care—indicating that our model is equipping families to thrive even during severe crisis.

During my time as CEO, I have been reminded that we cannot do this alone. As we faced compounding challenges in 2021, we were encouraged by the unwavering trust and understanding shown to us by our supporters. Our funders have stood steadfast by our side throughout the ongoing conflict. And as we continued to learn and evolve our model in 2021, we connected with organizations aligned with our mission to tackle shared challenges together. As crises deepen globally, we continue to seek support from partners, peer organizations and our network of donors to create collective impact in Ethiopia.

The stories of individuals who have transformed their lives have turned our hope into knowing. Our model is eliminating poverty and illuminating lives even in the darkest of times. In a time when unrest is pulling families apart, our work is helping families come together and thrive in the face of crisis. The tireless efforts of Glimmer’s team in the US and Ethiopia, the support from donors, and the results we are seeing indicate that we will emerge from the insurmountable challenges stronger and more motivated than ever.

Results

Impact in
a Time of Crisis

Location: Libo Kemkem, Amhara
Target Population: 63,000
Status: Active Implementation, Launched 2018
Approach: Integrated community-led
develoment focused on:
  • Loans, trainings and technical assistance for farmers.
  • Irrigation to support farm production.
  • Strengthening rural financial cooperatives and village economic and savings groups.
  • Supportive training and infrastructure in education and health.
  • Gender empowerment through girls’ clubs.

Three years into Glimmer’s project in Libo Kemkem, this rural community is stable and thriving. We started our work here in 2018 with a focus on agricultural livelihoods to reduce poverty and build lasting resilience.

When Covid disrupted the rural economy and a political conflict approached the area, our interventions were tested beyond expectations. By 2021, families in Libo Kemkem reported experiencing more crises than at the outset of the project.

Despite these extreme challenges, the results of a 2021 evaluation show that Glimmer’s approach is working. Today, families are better able to cope with shocks, food security has improved and household assets are growing—all important indicators of resilience.

Stability

59%
Increase in Assets

Reliable and diversified income allowed families to grow their safety net.

78%
Increase in Cash Savings

Families are saving for the future.

Food Security

49%
Decrease in Hunger

With improved farming practices and production, families are more food secure.

92%
Increase in Dietary Diversity

Nutrition trainings and diverse crops resulted in healthier diets.

Resilience

88%
Decrease in Severe Coping Strategies

Even with more stress, families found better ways to respond and recover—key markers of resilience.

"When Glimmer came to my community, I was able to take a loan and better harvest my onions. I was successful. I was able to pay back my loan with interest. Now I save and I am still working with the profit. This is change."

—Workie, loan recipient

"I was constantly supported by the agriculture support team. My successful harvest motivated me to keep working hard."

—Aychew, loan recipient

"I chose to get a loan and life started changing. Before we used to eat very little. Now we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner."

—Wolansa, loan recipient

"Now that I have fully repaid my previous loan, I plan to join the fattening business by purchasing oxen."

—Kes, loan recipient

Project Spotlight

Planet-Positive Pilot Supported by the IKEA Foundation

Location: Debub Sodo, SNNPR
Target Population: 200 households
Status: Active Implementation, Launched 2021
Approach: Circular and regenerative agriculture
Background

Ethiopia’s dependence on farming for food and income is under threat. Climate change is causing an increase in environmental crises, such as droughts, flooding and pests. At the same time, non-sustainable farming practices continuously degrade soil health, making it even more challenging to yield crops year over year.

What We Are Testing

Does a regenerative and circular food systems approach that recycles waste and restores soil health contribute to a healthier planet and thriving people?

Why This Matters

Supporting long-term health of the land contributes to better harvests, nutrient-dense foods, and strong local economies. Restoring the soil means families can thrive where they live for generations to come.

Farmer cooperatives are trained to use worms to make and sell organic fertilizer.

The Strategies

1Regenerate soil & recycle waste

Supporting farmers to grow crops and raise livestock that are paired together to create the greatest benefits to health and profitability of the land.

2Establish farmer cooperatives

Agribusiness cooperatives allow farmers to increase their buying and spending power, leading to fair market pricing for their products. Cooperatives foster shared learnings and best practices.

3Select & train model farmers

Model farmers receive additional training and demonstrate planet-positive agriculture practices to their peers.

Our Reach

Highlights
From 2021

This year, Glimmer implemented our model across four communities with a focus on livelihoods, education and healthcare for more than 51,000 families in rural Ethiopia. To respond to the crises in country, we continued to provide targeted emergency relief.

We prioritized growth in family assets, skills and social support
4,400
borrowers received microloans
6,000
people trained on climate resilience and
business development
265
village associations strengthened
We invested in the health and well-being of families
16,000
people trained on nutrition and health
240
girls’ club leaders trained on menstrual hygiene and gender empowerment
25,000
people gained access to clean water
close to home
We strengthened and empowered local leaders
45
locally hired facilitators provided support to Glimmer borrowers
145
cooperative members trained as part of the Agricultural Leadership Program
We responded to the ongoing political conflict & global pandemic
$245,000
invested in emergency supplies for families in Tigray and Amhara displaced by the conflict
9,700
people received maize, legumes and cooking oil when Covid exacerbated hunger in Oromia

Impact Story

Bedria Transforms
Her Life & Land

“The community believes in me,” said Bedria. “I am proud to be one of the women who is a lead farmer. It shows that women can work equally to men. Other women in my community have started working on their land after watching me.”

One year ago, Bedria took a small loan from Glimmer that set her on a path to not only start her own business, but to create independence for herself and her children. She is now a model farmer, training women in her community on how to restore soil health and generate long-term profit from their land. If you were to meet Bedria today, you would see her confidence and pride as she shares about her farm with all who will listen.

Bedria’s life looked very different just a few years ago. Like many girls in rural Ethiopia, Bedria was forced into child marriage at age 12. After complications and nearly dying during the labor of her first child, Bedria went on to deliver three more children. Bedria remembers feeling so scared that she couldn’t support her growing family.

Then life got harder. Bedria’s husband was murdered and, in line with local traditions, her late husband’s brother married her as his second wife. Bedria relied fully on her new husband for herself and now eight children, creating tension at home. Bedria was trapped.

The opportunity to take an agriculture loan—along with trainings and one-on-one support—changed Bedria’s life at a time when she had no other options. After successfully raising goats, Bedria was selected for additional training. She now teaches other farmers on practices that improve the land and counter the impacts of climate change.

“The community believes in me,” said Bedria. “I am proud to be one of the women who is a lead farmer. It shows that women can work equally to men. Other women in my community have started working on their land after watching me.”

The greatest transformation for Bedria is her independence. Forced into marriage at such a young age robbed her of her education and limited her job options in a rural area even more. Now, with enough income to open a savings account, she provides for herself and her children on her own—releasing her from the ties to her husband. Bedria is also creating a new direction for the next generation. She is so proud that her oldest child is set to graduate and head to university in a few months.

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