Beles Sugar Development Project, Ethiopia
Dawit is a young irrigation engineer who joined the Beles Sugar Project two years ago. He is enthusiastic about his job and he talks positively about the benefits of the project for the area and for the whole country.
I joined the project after attending a seven months training. The first month at Bishoftu was mainly about politics, social life, and the Kaizen system (see below). The following four months we were at the Wonji sugar factory to learn irrigation theory. Finally, we had on-the-job training on different types of irrigation: sprinkler, furrow, surface and drip irrigation. Now, I have the chance to turn knowledge into practice: after graduation I got job offers from different places, but this was the best opportunity…and the salary is good! I used to teach in Agarfa Agricultural College and my monthly salary was 2,700 birr. Here I earn around 10,000 birr.
I work as a supervisor in the irrigation construction sector. There are a total of 4 supervisors, each one is responsible for about 6,000 hectares of the plantation. I am responsible for two foremen, each of them is responsible of 5 plumbers, and each plumber works with 3 laborers. These photos show my daily challenges and responsibilities, and the resources I manage: the experts, the engineers, the excavators, the daily labourers. Working here has enhanced my professional knowledge and my practical experiences. I really feel good about these photos!
Our work is organised on the basis of BSC (Balance Score Card) and Kaizen. BSC is a tool for results focused administration that helps to measure work performances. Kaizen is an approach to ensure the best quality of work. It is a Japanees system that helps to solve problems. “Kai” means “change”and “zen” means “for the better”. We are divided in development teams of five, with one supervisor. I supervise one of these development teams. Each team members has a specific task. Every week, on friday afternoon, we meet to monitor our tasks and performances, to prepare reports and to discuss problems and how to address them. If we cannot solve the problem, we report it to our boss. If the problem is beyond the bosses’ capacity, it will be reported up to the federal level of the Sugar Corporation.
I think that this project has huge benefits for the development of the country. There are a lot of job opportunities beacuse of investments in infrastructures, housing, auto mechanics, irrigation and plantation, factory installation… A number of youths who have graduated from universities got the opportunity to apply their skill and knowledge and to improve their career. Also, local people received jobs in the sugar scheme, as labourer, guards…there are opportunities even for those with no experience or educational background!
The project has a major impact on the growth of the woreda and of the town. In the past there were many problems. Now the town got drinking water supply and the asphalt road. Schools and health centers have been constructed for the displaced people. Many used to live in the bush, but now there is a school and drinking water, made available for their children. The society is benefiting from the expansion of services like hotels or transport. Some of the displaced farmers chose to shift to other areas to continue as farmers. I think they were convinced and they moved based on their consent. Of course, the community mobilization expert knows more about this issue than me.
This area is very fertile and productive. When the factories will operate, this project will contribute to the import substitution policy of the government and it will also satisfy the domestic demand for sugar and by-products such as ethanol. The irrigation system is gravity based, so there is no cost, this will have a big role for the economy.