HIV/AIDS continues to stalk children and adolescents – UNICEF

UN children’s agency to showcase successes, innovations at AIDS Conference

Japan media members led by the Japan Center for International Exchange visit UNICEF programmes in Tigray Ethiopia.
Almaz is living with HIV AIDS, her current health condition is much improved with the help of Community Child Care Coalition (CCC), her children are also in a good and healthy condition. She is running her own business in which she started with a scheme organized with assistance of UNICEF. She got a loan which the resource is mobilized mainly from the community. She is the one who is administering her family with her business. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Sewunet

DURBAN, South Africa, 19 July 2016 – On the eve of the 21st International AIDS Conference taking place in Durban this week, UNICEF warned that despite remarkable global progress in tackling the HIV/AIDS pandemic, much work remains to be done to protect children and adolescents from infection, sickness and death. 

Since 2000, concerted action to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) in countries with high HIV/AIDS prevalence has brought the transmission rate down by roughly 70 per cent worldwide. This includes sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the greatest burden of HIV/AIDS infections and deaths. Over the last 15 years, PMTCT programmes have prevented some 1.6 million new HIV infections in children, globally, while the provision of anti-retroviral treatment has saved 8.8 million lives (people of all ages). 

But the children’s agency said that adolescents are dying of AIDS at alarming rates.

“After all of the saved and improved lives thanks to prevention, treatment and care; after all of the battles won against stigma, prejudice and ignorance about this disease; after all of the wonderful milestones achieved, AIDS is still the number two cause of death for children aged 10-19 globally – and number one in Africa,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

The numbers of AIDS-related deaths among adolescents 15-19 years have more than doubled since 2000. Globally in 2015, there were on average 29 new infections per hour among those in this age group. And while rates of new infections among adolescents have levelled off, UNICEF is concerned that projected increases in their population in the coming years will mean an increase in the overall number of infections.

Girls are particularly vulnerable, making up about 65 per cent of new adolescent infections worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for about 70 per cent of people living with HIV in the world, 3 out of every 4 adolescents newly infected by HIV in 2015 were girls. 

Yet fear of testing keeps many young people unaware of their HIV status. Among adolescents, only 13 per cent of girls and 9 per cent of boys were tested within the last year. A new poll conducted on U-report, UNICEF’s mobile-based reporting tool, shows that some 68 per cent of 52,000 young people surveyed in 16 countries said they did not want to be tested, both because they were afraid of an HIV-positive result, and because they were worried about social stigma.

Meanwhile, new infections among children due to transmission at birth or during breastfeeding have decreased dramatically since 2000, dropping by 70 per cent in the period. But the children’s agency called for stepping up efforts to eliminate the transmission of the virus from mother to child.

Lake, speaking after a visit to the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Kwa Zulu Natal province, South Africa, stressed the urgent need for innovation and renewed political will to reach the children still being left behind. In 2015, half of new infections among children (0-14 years), occurred in only six countries: Nigeria, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa.

“The undeniable progress we have made in the last three decades does not mean that our struggle is over,” Lake said. “The battle against AIDS will not be over until we redouble prevention and treatment efforts; until we reach those young lives still being denied the progress that millions before them have enjoyed; and until we end the stigma and fear that prevent so many young people from getting tested.” 

Ethiopia specific Information:

In Ethiopia, HIV prevalence is low compared to other African countries. In 2011, 1.5 per cent of the population between the ages of 15 and 49 years were HIV positive (EDHS 2011). However, taking into account the country’s large population, the absolute number of people infected with HIV is high and regional disparities remain.

In 2014, Ethiopia accounted 10 per cent of the 120, 000 adolescent deaths reported globally (UNAIDS, HIV estimates, 2013). While information in this group is scanty nationally, available data shows that adolescent girls aged 15-19 are disproportionately affected by the epidemic. About 74 per cent of the newly infected adolescents for that age group were girls in 2013 (UNAIDS, HIV estimates, 2013). Girls are at a high risk of HIV infection due to gender-based inequality, age-disparate sexual activities, and partner violence.

In addition, only 24 per cent of girls and 32 per cent of boys aged 15-19 have comprehensive knowledge about HIVAIDS (UNICEF, Global Database, 2014).

Despite many progress and achievements made regarding HIV/AIDS response in Ethiopia, still, challenges remain in the areas of preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and paediatrics and particularly, HIV treatment and care. In 2014, only 54 per cent of pregnant and lactating mothers attending health facilities were tested and received their results for HIV/AIDS while 73 per cent of the nationally expected HIV positive pregnant and lactating women and 23 per cent of children living with HIV received ART respectively. (Global AIDS Progress Report, 2014).

UNICEF is working closely with the Government of Ethiopia in HIV/AIDS response through providing policy advice/dialogue, financial and technical support in the development of strategic documents, national guidelines and other relevant documents in the areas of PMTCT and paediatric HIV addressing both children and adolescents. Key steps being taken and should be intensified include, working towards effective linkage between antenatal (ANC) services providing PMTCT interventions and child survival services; expanding paediatrics testing beyond PMTCT and using other child survival entry points; bringing paediatric HIV testing and treatment closer to communities and generating adequate information for addressing adolescent needs.

Majority of men and women oppose Female Genital Mutilation in countries where practice persists – UNICEF figures

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NEW YORK 14 JULY 2016 – Approximately two-thirds of men, women, boys and girls in countries where female genital mutilation is common say they want the practice to end – according to UNICEF data. In countries with available data, 67 per cent of girls and women and 63 per cent of boys and men oppose the continuation of the practice in their communities.

“Although female genital mutilation is associated with gender discrimination, our findings show that the majority of boys and men are actually against it,” said Francesca Moneti, UNICEF Senior Child Protection Specialist. “Unfortunately, individuals’ desire to end female genital mutilation is often hidden, and many women and men still believe the practice is needed in order for them to be accepted in their communities.”

Data show that in some countries men oppose FGM more strongly than women. In Guinea – the country with the second highest prevalence in the world – 38 per cent of men and boys are against the continuation of FGM, compared to 21 per cent of women and girls.  The same pattern is seen in Sierra Leone, where 40 per cent of boys and men want the practice to end, compared to 23 per cent of girls and women.

The most striking difference between men and women’s perceptions regarding FGM is also in Guinea, where 46 per cent of men and boys say FGM has no benefit, compared with just 10 per cent of women and girls.  The findings also show that in just over half the 15 countries with available data, at least 1 in 3 girls and women say FGM has no benefits.  The proportion is very similar among boys and men in all but two of the 12 countries with data.

In addition to a large majority of people opposing the harmful practice where it is concentrated, there is evidence of growing momentum and commitment to end FGM.

In 2015, both Gambia and Nigeria adopted national legislation criminalising FGM.  More than 1,900 communities, covering an estimated population of 5 million people, in the 16 countries where data exist, made public declarations to abandon FGM.  The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 include a target calling for the elimination of all harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage by 2030.  

UNICEF’s research also reveals a possible link between a mother’s education and the likelihood that her daughter will be cut.  Among the 28 countries with available data, around 1 in 5 daughters of women with no education have undergone FGM, compared to 1 in 9 daughters with mothers that have at least a secondary education.

At least 200 million girls and women alive today in 30 countries around the world have undergone FGM – a range of procedures that can cause extreme physical and psychological pain, prolonged bleeding, HIV, infertility and death.

“Data can play an important role in exposing the true opinions of communities on female genital mutilation,” said Moneti. “When individuals become aware that others do not support the practice it becomes easier for them to stop FGM. More work is needed with young people, men and women, entire communities and religious and political leaders, to highlight these findings, and the harmful effects of FGM, to further accelerate the movement to end the practice.”

UNICEF and UNFPA co-lead the largest global programme to encourage elimination of FGM. It currently supports efforts in 17 countries – working at every level, from national to communities.

Note to editors: Ethiopia specific information

In Ethiopia, despite a steady reduction in FGM/C nationally over the past decade, still 23 per cent (nearly one out of four) girls between the ages of 0 to 14 undergo this practice (Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS) 2011). According to the same source, FGM/C is practiced across all regions in Ethiopia with varying degree with the prevalence in Amhara (47 per cent), Benshangul-Gumuz (24 per cent) and Tigray (22 per cent), Oromia (17 per cent) and Harari (14 per cent). The regions with the highest prevalence rate are Somali (70 per cent) and Afar (60 per cent). The impact of FGM/C in these two regions is severe as the two regions practice the worst form of FGM/C which involves total elimination of the external female genitalia and stitching, just leaving a small opening for urination. 

The Government of Ethiopia has taken strategic and programmatic measures to eliminate FGM/C. Some of the key actions include; endorsement of the National Strategy and Action Plan on Harmful Traditional Practices against Women and Children and communication strategy for social norm change and establishment of the National Alliance to End Child Marriage and FGM/C. Moreover, the Government has shown a ground-breaking commitment to end FGM/C and child marriage by the year 2025 at the London Girls’ Summit and reinforced by setting a target to reduce the practice to 0.5 per cent by 2020 in the Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTP II). 

UNICEF is supporting the Government of Ethiopia in developing a roadmap which defines the long term strategic and programme interventions and the role of different actors, strengthening the National Alliance through supporting the establishment of functional secretariat, enriching the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) module to include better data and organization of consensus building sessions with religious leaders in collaboration with UNFPA and other Alliance members.

UNICEF and UNFPA have been working hand in hand for many years in Ethiopia for the abandonment of FGM/C. One of the exemplary programs that can be sited is the joint programme on accelerating the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Afar Region. The program has a social mobilization component which includes; training of community dialogue facilitators, facilitated community dialogue, working with religious and clan leaders, youth dialogue targeting in and out of school girls and a care component which involves tracking cases of complications with linkage to health facilities. Also, improving enforcement of the law through increasing legal literacy, strengthening special units in the law enforcement bodies for better reporting and management of cases. The programme has recorded pronounced success in facilitating declaration of abandonment of the practice in 6 districts in Afar Region, and eventually expanding to other districts in Afar and other regions.

 

El Niño is over but its impact on children is set to worsen as disease, malnutrition continue to spread

In Eastern and Southern Africa alone, 26.5 million children are in need of aid

NAIROBI/NEW YORK, July 8, 2016 – The 2015-2016 El Niño has ended but its devastating impact on children is worsening, as hunger, malnutrition and disease continue to increase following the severe droughts and floods spawned by the event, one of the strongest on record, UNICEF said today.

And there is a strong chance La Niña – El Niño’s flip side – could strike at some stage this year, further exacerbating a severe humanitarian crisis that is affecting millions of children in some of the most vulnerable communities, UNICEF said in a report called It’s not over – El Niño’s impact on children.

Children in the worst affected areas are going hungry. In Eastern and Southern Africa – the worst hit regions – some 26.5 million children need support, including more than one million who need treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

In many countries, already strained resources, have reached their limits, and affected families have exhausted their coping mechanisms – such as selling off assets and skipping meals. Unless more aid is forthcoming, including urgent nutritional support for young children, decades of development progress could be eroded.

HALABA WOREDA, SNNPR – 24 JANUARY 2016In many countries, El Niño affected access to safe water, and has been linked to increases in diseases such as dengue fever, diarrhoea and cholera, which are major killers of children. In South America, and particularly Brazil, El Niño has created favourable breeding conditions for the mosquito that can transmit Zika, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.  If La Niña does develop, it could contribute to the spread of the Zika virus to areas that have not been affected to date.

UNICEF also said there are serious concerns that Southern Africa, the global epicentre of the AIDS pandemic, could see an increased transmission of HIV as a result of El Niño’s impact. Lack of food affects access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART), as patients tend not to take treatment on an empty stomach, and many people will use their limited resources for food rather than transport to a health facility. Drought can also force adolescent girls and women to engage in transactional sex to survive. And, mortality for children living with HIV is two to six times higher for those who are severely malnourished than for those who are not.

“Millions of children and their communities need support in order to survive. They need help to prepare for the eventuality La Niña will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. And they need help to step up disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change, which is causing more intense and more frequent extreme weather events,” said UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programs, Afshan Khan. “The same children who are affected by El Niño and threatened by La Niña, find themselves on the frontlines of climate change.”

Abducted as a child, returned an adult after 18 years

By Wossen Mulatu

 

GAMBELLA, Ethiopia,  25 May 2016 – Eighteen years after he was kidnapped as a child by raiders, Paul Tok*, 19, came home to his native village of Dima to a warm welcome.

In the long years of his captivity by the Murle tribesmen in neighbouring South Sudan, where he was attached to a local family, forced to learn the language and help raise their cattle and farm their land, he never forgot who he was.

His brother, five years older and taken with him, repeatedly told him that they were different. “We are Anuak, we will never be Murle.”

The Murle have long raided their neighbours for cattle and children. In the last decade, 50 children have been taken from the Anuak parts of Ethiopia in Gambella State in yearly raids.

Those raids, however, sprang to international prominence when the Murle launched a massive cross border operation against 13 Nuer villages in mid-April, killing more than 200 people and carting off 146 children and thousands of cattle.

As the Ethiopian Government works to release these children, the experience of others kidnapped by the Murle has come under renewed scrutiny.

Dawn raid and captivity

Paul Tok, 19, Ongogi Kebele, Jor woreda, Gambella region.
When Paul Tok, 19, returned to his own village in Dima, everyone was filled with joy and there was a big fiesta by the community. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mersha

Paul and his older brother were kidnapped in 1997 in a violent attack on their village. His mother fought to keep her sons and was slashed with a knife that left her weak and she died of illness four years later. Her husband followed her into the grave two years afterwards following a prolonged period of depression.

Paul would only find out about his parents death on his return years later. He and his brother were taken to the village of Lelot in South Sudan and attached to a family who already had 10 other children and was put to work.

Paul said he never liked his life with the Murle.

“I didn’t like the food, the language and the fact that we didn’t wear any clothes,” he said. “Since the Murle take pride in having lots of cattle, they gave us a lot of milk. They also gave us blood from the oxen to drink but I never dared to try it.”

“They taught us to hunt wild animals and when we failed, they would tell us we were not man enough and beat us,” he recalled. They were also beaten when they refused to join the deadly cattle raid attacks against the Anuak. ”I never collaborated with them – how could I steal from my community?”

Paul and his brother were allowed to attend school and Paul studied up to 9th grade.

Escape and reunification

When fighting wracked South Sudan as rival tribes battled each other in a civil war during the past few years, Paul decided to join the flow of refugees into Ethiopia and make his way back to Dima.

“I told them my story in Anuak language when I was in the camp. They were so happy and they hid me and gave me food and clothing. My aunt was looking for me tirelessly and she heard about my return and came to take me,” he said with pride.

Though Paul is thrilled to be reunited with his family, he misses his brother who is still in South Sudan. “He is now in 11th grade in Juba and he wants to finish school. We would have come together. I don’t think he will waste a day to return after he finishes school,” Paul said.

Paul is now receiving lots of affection from his own community. Along with his aunt and relatives, he gets support from the woreda (district) including clothing and school materials and has now re-enrolled. He still lives in fear, however, that the Murle will come back and take him away. “They know me as their child and I will be considered a traitor if found,” he said.

There has been a steady increase in cross-border child abduction over the past decade. The civil war in South Sudan and the easy availability of weapons has exacerbated the rate of these abductions both in terms of the numbers of children abducted and adults killed each year.

Deng Chol, 5 years old boy from Nipnip Kebele (sub-district), with his mother
Deng Chol, 5 years old boy from Nipnip Kebele (sub-district), with his mother Nyapuk Kang at a temporary residence of abducted children © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Tesfaye

However, after the April 15 attack, the Ethiopian Government made a statement that the Ethiopian forces will follow the Murle armed men into their territories in South Sudan to rescue the abducted children.

UNICEF is working in close collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia and partners on a response plan which includes reintegration, psychological support, basic health care and nutrition services as well as providing items such as tents for their accommodation and clothing for each child.

UNICEF has called for the children’s swift and unconditional return.

“I hope they will stop abducting our children,” says Okew Owar, head of the Jor Woreda. “For the Murle, the more children they steal from us, the richer and powerful they become since children are sold and exchanged for cattle.”

After the reunification with his community, Paul wants to improve his Anuak since he has forgotten some words apart from what his brother taught him when they were children. He can now speak the Murle language fluently as well as a little Arabic.

“I would like to become a teacher and teach my community,” he said.

 

*Name of subject has been changed to protect privacy

 

Return, recovery and reunification of the abducted children in Gambella

By Wossen Mulatu

Nyatayin Both, 25, Kuanyluaalthoan kebele, Lare woreda, Gambella Region.
25-year-old Nyatayin with her one year old daughter Nyakoch Gatdet at a temporary shelter for returned children in Gambella. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mersha

GAMBELLA, Ethiopia, 25 May 2016 – When the attack on the village came, 25-year-old Nyatayin Both held tightly to two of her children, but the raiders still managed to kidnap the two others amidst the panic and commotion.

“I wish I’d had four hands to hold them and save all of my four children,” she recalled, describing the horrific day in mid-April in Ethiopia’s Gambella region when she lost her 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

In a raid of unprecedented scale, some 200 people were killed and 146 children were taken by raiders from neighboring South Sudan, widely described as Murle tribesmen. The Ethiopian military and the local Gambella Government have been negotiating for their slow release ever since.

For Nyatayin, it meant a miracle to see the return of her 9-year-old daughter Nyamuoch.

“At first it was just rumors that some of the children had returned, but later we were told by local officials to come and identify our children,” she said. “I was hoping to see mine, when I spotted my daughter among the many children standing in a circle, I was thrilled and praised the Lord and thanked the government for taking action.”

It was a joy tempered by the fact that her other son was still out there and of course the death of so many relatives that day, including her husband. So far 91 children have been recovered.

UNICEF is working closely with the Government of Ethiopia and partners on a response plan which includes reintegration, psychological support, basic health care and nutrition services as well as providing tents and clothing for each child.

Currently, the children are being cared for at a two-storey guest house of the Gambella Regional Government, where Sarah Nyauony Deng is supervising their care.

“When they arrive here, most of them were so silent and isolated themselves, but after some time, they start to socialize with others, play together and become cheerful,” she said. “Most of them also have injuries on their legs from the long walks.”

Nyamuoch Gatdet, 9 years, 1st grade student, Kuanyluaalthoan kebele, Lare woreda, Gambella region.
Nyamuoch Gatdet, 9 years, was one of the 146 children who were abducted from their communities in the Gambella Region ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mersha

Flashbacks from the forest
Nyamuoch recalls that terrible day she was taken from her village that began at dawn with the sound of shots.

“I was still asleep and suddenly I heard gunfire and ran out of the house. I was filled with fear and anxiety,” she said. “I started running along with many other children and adults but they caught most of us and took us to a forest. Where I was, most of the abducted children were strangers except a boy I recognized from my village.”

Nyamuoch said they were constantly talking to them but none of the children understood a word. “I think they were trying to teach us their language,” she said. “I am so happy to be back to my family. My mother and I cried for a long time with happiness and now she is with me again, I am not scared anymore.”

Reintegration

Working with the president’s office and the Bureau of Women and Children Affairs, UNICEF has drawn upon a detailed action plan for child protection, including identification, documentation, psycho-social first aid and family assessments to facilitate appropriate rehabilitation services during reunification of the children.

Children in Gambella at the Presidential Guest House
Children in Gambella Presidential Guest House after their recovery from abduction ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Tesfaye

“Currently, we are doing a needs assessment to mobilize resources for the abducted children and their families. Some of the children have lost one or both parents, some their cattle and some their huts as it was burned by the Murle,” said Ocher Ocher Obang of the Bureau of Women and Children’s Affairs in Gambella.

In addition, many in the affected communities are afraid to return to their remote villages for fear of renewed attacks by the Murle.

With the return of the rains, the displaced families need land to till, shelter to live in, as well as additional clothing and health care.

As the Ethiopian and South Sudanese governments strengthen their efforts to recover the remaining abducted children, UNICEF calls for the children’s swift and unconditional return to their families.

“I thought they would lock us in the forest forever,” said Nyamuoch. “When I grow up, I only want to do good things for humanity by becoming a teacher or a doctor – I will never forget this incident.”

 

South-South Cooperation as a new approach for WASH sector development in Ethiopia

By Samuel Godfrey and Michele Paba 

South – South Consultative Meeting Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
(LR) Ms.Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Ato Kebede Gerba State Minister MOWIE, Octavio Henrique Cortes Brazilian Ambassador to Ethiopia. Signed a trilateral program document to cooperate on WASH under South-South initiative. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Tesfaye

In the effort to improve delivery of essential services to women and children, South-South cooperation provides a platform for lower income countries to learn from middle income countries that have recently addressed developmental challenges similar to their own. Ethiopia’s aspiration to reach middle income status by 2020 means that its five-year Growth and Transformation Plan II is heavily reliant on exploring the economic and social development models of China, Brazil, Cuba and other Latin American Nations.

The need to address rapidly urbanizing small and medium sized towns is central to Ethiopia’s growth. UNICEF in its new Country Programme (2016-2020) has identified urbanization as one of the key challenges being faced by women and children. How do lower income households get access to equitable and affordable services such as health care, education, water supply and sanitation? How will the rights of out-of-school children in urban areas be protected?

To answer some of these questions, UNICEF Ethiopia has supported the South-South partnerships between the Government of Ethiopia and the Governments of Brazil and Cuba in two strategic areas, Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Integrated Water Resource Management.

The cooperation initiative with Brazil was initiated in 2014 with the support of UNICEF Ethiopia and Brazil Country Offices and the UK Government, under the ONEWASH Plus Programme, with the aim of supporting the water and sanitation sector in Ethiopia in two key pillars, namely, the development of the sanitation sector in towns, with particular focus on technology transfer for the treatment of waste water generated by densely populated housing facilities such as condominiums, and the establishment of an independent regulatory framework for WASH services at all levels.

Given the extensive experience of the Cuban Government in river basin and water resource management, the recently established collaboration with the Ethiopian authorities, supported by UNICEF and the US Government, will definitively generate great impacts on the watershed management plans and riverine resources conservation initiatives across the country.

The two South-South initiatives were reviewed, through a consultative workshop held in Addis Ababa on 26 May 2016, by high level officials from the Ministry of Water Irrigation and Electricity, the Embassies of Brazil and Cuba, UNICEF as well as other sector institutions and development partners including  the UK and US Governments. The workshop culminated in the signing of the three-year project document between Ethiopia and Brazil. Together, the partnerships with Brazil and Cuba will help Ethiopia strengthen the WASH sector to be able to better deliver services for children and communities.

During the event, the State Minister of Water Irrigation and Energy, H.E. Ato Kebede Gerba, underlined the importance of the integration of different forms of cooperation, both North-South and South-South, in order for the sector in Ethiopia to get the required exposure and learning from different experiences and practices.

Dr. Samuel Godfrey is Chief of WASH and Michele Paba a WASH Specialist at UNICEF Ethiopia

Sweden responds to El Niño-driven drought in Ethiopia

              The Government avails US$ 5.7 million to UNICEF’s drought response activities

Inauguration of new UNICEF warehouse
New cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) arrives at a UNICEF warehouse

ADDIS ABABA, 22 June 2016 -The Government of Sweden contributes US$ 5.7 million to UNICEF to save children’s lives and protect children affected by El Niño-driven drought in Ethiopia. This is the single largest crisis contribution of Sweden to UNICEF globally this year. In addition to the grant provided through UNICEF Ethiopia, Sweden has provided US$25 million to the drought response in Ethiopia since September 2015.

The Swedish support comes at a critical time when Ethiopia is currently facing the worst drought in decades leaving 10.2 million people, including 6 million children, in need of emergency assistance. It also created critical water shortages in Somali, Afar, parts of SNNP, eastern Oromia, Amhara and Tigray regions.  Poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, resulting from water shortage, are also contributing to an increase in disease outbreaks. 

In addition, the number of severely malnourished children who need therapeutic feeding treatment continues to increase. UNICEF, together with the Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners, is stepping up efforts to address the needs of 458,000 children under five with Severe Acute Malnutrition and 2.5 million children, pregnant and lactating women with Moderate Acute Malnutrition.[1]

“Sweden has been a strong humanitarian and development partner to Ethiopia over the years. We are very committed to support the country in the struggle to combat and prevent the effects of the worst drought Ethiopia has seen in over 50 years,” said H.E. Jan Sadek, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia. “Sweden is determined to continue to work for a deeper integration between humanitarian relief and long term development objectives. The partners in Ethiopia have come quite far in this integration but more needs to be done. We believe that in this regard, UNICEF, which has a mandate in both ‘spheres’, is playing a key role.”

Together with other donors, Sweden’s support enabled UNICEF to make the largest global purchase of Therapeutic Food for children in drought-stricken Ethiopia. With this new funding, UNICEF will work towards improving the capacity of health extension workers on Severe Acute Malnutrition management.

In addition, new stabilization centres will be established in existing health centres to cater to the increasing number of children with severe acute malnutrition.  The contribution will also strengthen Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams which provide lifesaving primary health care, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation promotion services in hard hit drought areas of the Afar and Somali regions. Furthermore, water will be provided to primary schools for drinking as well as for routine handwashing in the Oromia Region.

“UNICEF appreciates the Government of Sweden’s generous contribution of life saving interventions for children and their families whose lives have been affected by the El-Niño driven drought emergency,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. “UNICEF, together with the Government of Ethiopia and partners, continues to play an important role in scaling up its interventions in terms of nutrition, health, water sanitation and hygiene, child protection and education to mitigate the worst impact of this crisis.”