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Case Study 2023
Bench Sheko Zone, South-West Ethiopia

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Located in the South West Ethiopia Peoples’ Region (a newly established region from the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region - SNNPR) of Ethiopia. It has a largely rural population of approximately 650,000 people in an area of 12,252 square kilometres. The Zone is divided up into several districts, otherwise termed woredas, which are further divided into kebeles or villages.

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Bench Sheko Zone


Your Task

Your task is to devise a social enterprise idea in response to this Case Study which showcases various challenges faced by individuals in the Bench Sheko Zone, South-West Ethiopia. 

This Case Study includes:

Core Challenges: These are key challenges faced by the community

Health, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), Education and Climate

Background Information: This provides additional context to ensure your project's viability


Choose one of the four Core Challenges you would like to respond to


Read the Background Information to gain more context


Design a social enterprise in response to your chosen Core Challenge


Core Challenges

Background Information

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The Zone is made up of several different ethnic groups each practising their own traditions. There are over 80 spoken languages used, the primary of which is Bench - making up 45% of first languages. In addition to cultural beliefs, the communities in Bench Sheko are very religious, echoing what is seen throughout Ethiopia, with approximately 50% of the population Protestant Christians, 18% Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, 26% practising traditional beliefs, and 3% Muslim.

Culture & Religion

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Electricity in the Zone is very intermittent resulting in limited internet access. Therefore, the main sources of communication rely on word-of-mouth in the community and sermons at religious ceremonies, particularly the church. In addition, radios are widely listened to and are accessible to many. There are also banners that are placed on cars and around the villages. The banners are illustrated due to low rates of literacy amongst the community. There are some mobile phones available in the area but they are not smartphones and are unlikely to have internet access. 



The main food eaten in Bench Sheko, in common with the rest of the country, is Injera, a flat pancake made out of fermented teff flour that is used as a base for toppings. With an excess of livestock, beef, lamb, and chicken are heavily consumed, with raw meat a delicacy for Ethiopians. Food is eaten with one hand, using the injera pancake as a base with which to pick up the toppings. 

Food & Nutrition

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The main source of income for households in the Bench Sheko Zone are the sale of crops and livestock due to the high produce of food grown and animals kept in the area. However, this income can be limited to seasons and therefore migration to urbanised areas can be common during the dry season. 


The main food crops grown in the Zone include maize, taro root and enset, whilst several other grains including wheat, barley, and teff are cultivated to a significant extent. In addition to these crops however, the Zone is known around the country for its production of tropical fruit, spices, and natural forest honey that are sold in the markets.  However, the main cash crop in the Zone is coffee, with over 10,000 tonnes of beans produced each year, making up 4% of Ethiopia’s total output. 


Market access is generally good with the Zone located near to urban areas and the availability of well-maintained roads. Mini local markets (guilt) are held every day and supply a small volume of items to local consumers. Larger district level markets are held once or twice a week and are markets for grains, livestock and industrially produced goods.



Evaluation Criteria


Cost Effectiveness

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Useful Resources

Sarit's Top Tips for your idea

Hear our Education Officer, Sarit Baum's top tips to maximise your score for your idea

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Mini Clips

Learn about key concepts such as Sustainability and Power Dynamics 

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Last year's Project Proposal Forms

View last year's Top 3 Groups' Project Proposal Forms. Remember, the Case Study was different last year! 

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Useful Research Sources

Maximise your Research score and view more context on the Bench Sheko Zone via the links on the document below. 

Read More
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This Case Study has been developed by NALA, an NGO working in Ethiopia on the prevention and elimination of neglected tropical diseases. For more information on their work visit

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