EU and UNICEF launch a photo book on the success story of reducing malnutrition in Ethiopia

25 April 2018, HAWASSA – Today, the European Union (EU) and UNICEF launched a photo book entitled “Ending malnutrition in Ethiopia – A SUCCESS STORY” which illustrates Ethiopia’s success story in ending malnutrition, through the voices, stories and images of Ethiopians.

The nutrition photo book launch and photo exhibition held in the presence of Dr Abreham Alano, Head of the SNNP Regional Health Bureau, H.E Ambassador Johan Borgstam, Head of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia, Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia and other key stakeholders from the Government and other partners is a celebration of the success achieved so far in the reduction of malnutrition in Ethiopia while advocating for continued multi-sectoral efforts since malnutrition among children and women in Ethiopia remains a major concern.

It is also a celebration of how Ethiopia has managed to sustain improvements in nutrition, yet also a reminder of all the work that needs to be done to ensure everyone enjoys optimal nutrition.

On the occasion, Dr Abreham Alano, Head of the SNNP Regional Health Bureau thanked the EU and UNICEF for their support in results gained thus far in reducing stunting and  malnutrition, on the health care utilization as well as maternal and child mortality reduction and urged them to continue their support until the targeted results are achieved.

Ambassador Johan Borgstam, Head of EU delegation to Ethiopia on his part said, “It is an honour for me to open this photo book and exhibition launching event today on a topic of malnutrition which is a priority of both the Government of Ethiopia and of the EU’s development cooperation policy. Malnutrition is not only a major health problem affecting children and adults in partner countries, it also has important economic and social dimensions challenging their development by deteriorating the well-being of their entire population.”

Ethiopia has experienced rapid and sustained improvements in nutrition during the past 15 years. For instance, the country has seen a steady reduction in stunting – the fastest rate of improvement in Africa – as well as a significant decline in the percentage of underweight and wasted children. Yet, Ethiopia remains in a precarious situation, with large absolute numbers of affected children: 5 million children are stunted and 1.3 million children under five suffer wasting.

“I would like to highlight the importance of long-term investments to ensure that progress is sustained in ending malnutrition in Ethiopia. While the achievements we recognize today are indeed a success story, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. Undernutrition still remains a challenge and it requires us all to redouble our efforts to ensure that every child enjoys better health and nutrition,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. With the Government’s leadership and the strong commitment of partners, this goal is achievable. Let’s walk together with the same single-minded determination, zeal, and focus to end undernutrition in Ethiopia.”

To further reduce these numbers, the EU has provided €10,000,000 to support vulnerable populations in 17 woredas (districts) in Oromia, SNNP and Amhara regions of Ethiopia through a project entitled “Multi-sectoral interventions to improve nutrition security and strengthen resilience.” This joint action plan which is being implemented by UNICEF and FAO aims to contribute to the improvement of nutritional status of children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women using the life cycle approach.

Italy and UNICEF sign the agreement for the second phase of the “vital events registration project”.

ADDIS ABABA, 6 December 2017: Italy and UNICEF signed today a financing agreement for the project “Strengthening the Civil Registration System for Children’s Right to Identity: Identification for Development – ID – Second Phasefor an amount of one million Euros.

The first phase of the project is currently under implementation in 50% of the Woredas and Kebeles of Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ (SNNP) regions. The second phase, which is funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for a period of 12 months, will cover the remaining 50% of the Woredas and Kebeles of Oromia and SNNP Regional States.

The agreement signed today by the Italian Ambassador Arturo Luzzi, the UNICEF Representative, Ms. Gillian Mellsop and the Director of the Addis Ababa Office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, Ms. Ginevra Letizia, will implement strategic activities aimed at: 1)improving institutional and technical capacity of the Regional Vital Events Registration Agencies (RVERAs) in Oromia and SNNPR; 2) establishing a standardized database and data management system; 3) providing RVERAs with modern IT devices and transportation, in order to better reach remote and disadvantaged areas. 820,000 newborn children will benefit from this initiative.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Arturo Luzzi, Ambassador of Italy to Ethiopia said that: “Through this initiative, we reiterate our strong commitment to work closely with the Ethiopian Authorities in order to ensure the basic rights and protection of newborns and children, since the first crucial step of identification and registration”.

Italy and UNICEF sign the agreement for the second phase of the “vital events registration project”
Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia says: the Italy support will allow UNICEF to scale up its programmatic support to the Regional Vital Events Registration Agencies of Oromia and SNNP region.

Ms. Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, on her part said: “We enter into the second phase of this partnership having witnessed encouraging results over the past twelve months. The renewed support will allow UNICEF to scale up its programmatic support to the Regional Vital Events Registration Agencies of Oromia and SNNP regions in their efforts to further improve and standardize the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics system.”

Ms. Ginevra Letizia, Head of the Addis Ababa Office of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation underlined that “The project works at community level, raising the awareness on the importance and benefits of birth registration, that is a crucial element for each individual also allowing citizens to benefit from social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights, reducing the phenomena of marginalization and exploitation”.

The Government of Sweden grants US$ 2.5 million to UNICEF for emergency response

The Government of Sweden provides another US$2.5 million to UNICEF Ethiopia to support Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), health and nutrition programmes in the drought affected regions of Afar, Oromia Somali and Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s regions.

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In Ethiopia, where 8.5 million people are currently in need of relief food assistance due to the recurrent drought emergency, 376,000 children are estimated to require treatment for severe acute malnutrition, 10.5 million people require access to safe drinking water and sanitation services and 1.9 million school-aged children need emergency school feeding and learning material assistance.

The contribution provided by the Government of Sweden will be used to construct and rehabilitate water supply schemes, procure Emergency Drug and Case Treatment Centre kits as well as obtain Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) supplies including ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF), tents and Stabilization Centre materials in the four regions highly affected by the drought emergency.

UNICEF is grateful to the Government of Sweden for its continued support for providing life-saving interventions during the current humanitarian situation which continues to affect mostly women and children.

In 2017, the Government of Sweden has contributed more than US$5 million to UNICEF-assisted humanitarian programmes in Ethiopia.

Nowhere to go – School Toilets

By Hiwot Ghiday and Raymond Kennedy

EAST BADEWACHO, SOUTHERN NATIONS, NATIONALITIES AND PEOPLE’S (SNNP) REGION, 13 February 2017 – Langano Primary School is located in the southern Ethiopian countryside around 17 km east of Shone town and has been open since [2004]. Until 2016, this bustling school of over 1,300 students had only one traditional latrine – shared by boys and girls alike.

Habtamu Pawlos
Habtamu Pawlos, 13-years-old, in front of the new boys’ latrine. ©UNICEF/2017/Ghiday

Habtamu Pawlos is 13-years-old and currently studying in grade eight – the highest level offered by Langano School. He explains, “Previously there was only one latrine at our school and since the number of students are many it was difficult to access when needed.” He thanks the donor for providing a block of four new latrines for each gender, complete with a handwashing facility and says it has solved the problem.

Habtamu is being gracious – while he knows that four boys’ toilets is an improvement on what they had before – it is still not many to share between over 700 male students at the school.

When there are not enough toilets to go around – it is not surprising that children resort to unsanitary practices. Estimates are that only 42 per cent of primary schools in the SNNP region are free from open defecation[1].

The lack of toilets in Langano Primary School caused particular problems for girls.

“Most of the time, the boys go first and we have to go back to class before we get to use the toilet,” Tsehay Moges, a 12-year-old girl who recently entered grade five explains. “Privacy was also a problem.”

Tsehay admits that the lack of toilets made it difficult for her to attend class and concentrate on her studies. She says students sometimes became sick from infections due to lack of access to proper toilets.

A recent UNICEF study found that over a quarter of girls surveyed missed school during their periods[2]. One key reason for this was the lack of private spaces to change their sanitary materials and clean properly. In many cases, girls told us that they would be teased or harassed by boys if they knew they were experiencing menses.

Private, separate toilets for girls will help Tsehay and her female classmates manage their periods with more dignity and will help reduce the number of girls absent from school.

latrine school
The previous one-stall latrine. ©UNICEF/2017/Ghiday

The contrast between the new latrine blocks and the old unimproved latrine is stark.

Shared by both boys and girls, this latrine provided little privacy and was very dirty. The uncovered latrine hole attracted swarms of flies which buzzed around the user, contributing to the spread of diseases including trachoma, which can cause blindness. Additionally, there was also no handwashing facility for the children to use. Traditional latrines may also easily collapse when it rains as they are built out of mud and sticks. This is a danger to users and also exposes the community to open defecation until they are replaced.

Through generous funding from SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, UNICEF is supporting the regional government in the SNNP region to ensure that school children can use safe, improved latrines with handwashing stations. This project is supporting 10 schools in total, and new toilets have been installed in six of them thus far.

While the population of students and teachers at Langano Primary School are fortunate to have a better sanitary environment, there is still work to be done elsewhere in Ethiopia. Even though has been significant progress in reducing open defecation, far too many children are using unsafe and unsanitary latrines – particularly in rural areas. The current coverage of improved latrines is estimated to be less than per cent in rural areas of Ethiopia[3]. There is a long way to go before all children in Ethiopia have proper access to safe and clean toilets at school.

[1] One WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) National Programme Draft Report 2016

[2] Menstrual Hygiene Management, Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices Baseline Survey, 2017; Afar, Gambella, Oromia and SNNP regions of Ethiopia.

[3] Ethiopia Demographic Health Survey 2016

Reaching Pastoralist Families with Primary Education in Drought-affected Areas

By Rebecca Beauregard

DASENECH, SOUTHERN NATIONS, NATIONALITIES AND PEOPLE’S, 6 April 2017 – A primary school located in the midst of pastoralist territory is no simple feat. Mobility is the central theme of pastoralism, or livestock-rearing livelihoods and pastoralists make up nearly 20 per cent of Ethiopia’s 94.3 million population. In the deep south along the border with South Sudan and Kenya, agro-pastoralism is commonly practiced. They are semi-mobile as they tend to large herds of animals and grow crops. While historically, pastoralists are one of the most isolated and vulnerable groups, more and more are receiving the opportunity to attend school.

The Naikia Primary School offers grades 1 through 4 within the walls of the two-building, single-story school. It is located in the remote Dasenech woreda (district) in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) region. The school is a centrepiece amongst the four villages which comprise the Naikia kebele (sub-district) and serves 193 children from the 1,695 nearby residents.

Until 2005, there was no school in the kebele. The Government of Ethiopia began implementing pastoralist education strategies at that time and Naikia kebele was one of the locations where an Alternative Basic Education Centre (ABEC) was constructed, with support from UNICEF. The ABEC provided flexible, simplified lessons based on the national curriculum, designed specifically to extend the reach of education to pastoralist families.

The community readily accepted the change, and in 2009, the ABEC was upgraded to a primary school, designed to also support a distant ABEC further in the woreda. Over the years, UNICEF has provided teacher training, furniture and educational materials to the school.

Donors visit UNICEF interventions in South Omo
11-year-old Allegn Arsena eats his portion of haricot beans and cracked wheat with his friend, Kayo Siliye during school feeding time, which takes place just after morning classes. School feeding programmes are known to keep children in school, particularly during times of drought when food and water are scarce. The programme is implemented by the Government of Ethiopia with support from the World Food Programme. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/ Rebecca Beauregard

Allegn Arsena, 11 years old, is one of the fortunate students to have attended all four years and speaks Amharic well because of his education. I was curious upon first meeting him if he had ever had to drop out for some time, to look after animals or help his family. Upon asking him, he admitted, “Yes,” He paused before going on to tell me he had once been sick and missed an entire three days of school. Otherwise, he has been in attendance every day and even stays after class finishes to continue reading and studying. In fact, with little else to do, it seems most students and teachers and even community members stay around the school once classes are over, with the students carrying on their studies while others connect and talk. Conversation quickly turns to the current drought and how it is affecting everyone.

The South Omo zone is one of the few in SNNP region, along with parts of Oromia and Somali regions, which has been affected by recurring drought. After suffering through the weather phenomenon El Niño in 2015 and 2016, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has caused failure of vital seasonal rains yet again. Dasanech is already underdeveloped and the IOD drought has intensified the dire situation.

“Sometimes I am late in the morning because there is no water available at the school and each of us has to fetch water to provide for the school feeding,” says one student. Her comment is amplified by resounding noise from the crowd of students, a motion I take to mean they have all experienced being tardy for the same reason.

Each student provides a share of water every day, the parents provide firewood and the school provides cracked wheat and haricot beans, supported by the World Food Programme. The essential school feeding has a solid track record for keeping kids in school, particularly in drought-stricken areas; one factor enabling students to learn.

Not every child in the neighbourhood has the opportunity to learn, however. Interestingly, there are more females than males in the school, and once past grade four, there are far fewer females than males going on to attend grade five. The reasons why are simple to explain, yet hard to fathom. Pastoralism requires people to watch the livestock and parents often have to pick which children may attend school and which must tend to the animals. Often it’s a one-time, consistent decision.

“I have two boys of similar age. When they reached school age, I had to select one to go on that path and the other to watch animals. It was a hard choice but I had to make it,” explains Nassiya Tabahai, a mother living in Naikia.

Donors visit UNICEF interventions in South Omo
Nassiya Tabahai, a mother from the Naikia community, speaks about the struggle she faced when having to pick which son could go to school and which had to stay behind with the family’s livestock. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/ Rebecca Beauregard

To continue education past grade four, students must attend another school in the woreda capital about 26 km away. For cultural and safety reasons, most families are not comfortable to send their young daughters to live outside of the family home.

Facing limitations in many respects, the resilient community is proud of their 193 students and notes the importance of education. “A man who is not educated fights but an educated man has power and resolves conflict without fighting,” An elder gathered at the school explains.

UNICEF is committed to support the Government of Ethiopia’s pastoralist education strategies and to support those communities most affected by drought. Together with the Government and international donors, the progress witnessed at Naikia can continue and be replicated and expanded across pastoralist territory. For every child.

Integrated Nutrition Services for Better Nutrition Outcomes 

By Nardos Birru

BOLOSO SORE, SOUTHERN NATIONS, NATIONALITIES AND PEOPLE’S REGION, 26 January 2017 – It was a sunny afternoon at the Chamahinbecho health post and the trees planted by health extension workers 10 years ago provided much needed shade in the compound. A group of mothers were sitting under the trees discussing how to best feed their toddlers and among them was Beyenech.

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Beyenech (middle), waiting for the porridge to feed her baby at a cooking demonstration session at Chamahinbecho health post, Boloso Sore woreda, SNNPR ©UNICEF/2017/Pudlowski

The cheery Beyenech, a mother of three, came to the health post to get her 1-year-old son weighed as part of the growth monitoring and promotion session that they attend on a monthly basis.

“I bring my son here every month and the health extension worker measures his weight and gives me advice,” says Beyenech. “She teaches us how to prepare meals for our children using different foods. I can see that my child is growing healthy and am glad to hear that [confirmed by] the health extension worker.”

Beyenech is among the many mothers in Chamahinbecho kebele (sub-district) who are benefiting from a project supported by the European Union called EU-SHARE. The project aims to contribute to improved nutritional status of children under five, adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women through strengthening nutrition outcomes of Government health, food security and livelihood programmes. The strategy involves integration of the multi-sector interventions at the household level to create synergetic effects that will maximize programme results.

Nutrition services for adolescents

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Adolescent deworming service. Chamahinbecho health post, Boloso Sore woreda, SNNPR ©UNICEF/2017/Pudlowski

It is not only Beyenech’s son who is benefiting from the nutrition services at the health post; her 15-year-old daughter has participated in the deworming campaign organized for adolescent students in the kebele. Beyenech speaks of her daughter, “Wubalem received a deworming tablet from the adolescent deworming campaign at her school last year. She also told me about the nutrition and hygiene practices that she heard from group discussion sessions during the campaign.”

Deworming of intestinal worms and schistosomiasis is an important service for young students, as both ailments affect the health and education of children and adolescents. A student with worms will be too sick or tired to attend school or will have difficulty concentrating in school. If left untreated over time, they may face stunting or malnutrition due to anaemia, as well as impaired cognitive development.

The Government-led programme, which is supported by EU-SHARE, contributes to the health and nutrition status of adolescents while improving school attendance rates. EU-SHARE project supports the programme through procurement of deworming tablets, provision of information, education and communication as well as behavioural change communication materials that are helpful to create awareness and initiate discussion on nutritional requirements during adolescence. The programme also includes technical support to health workers who carry out the deworming campaigns. Students like Wubalem have a better chance to succeed with their education due to initiatives like these.

Improving dietary diversity through backyard gardening

EU-SHARE also includes nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions which is implemented by FAO as part of the Government’s commitment to integrate nutrition into the agriculture sector. Promotion of backyard gardening is among the initiatives being implemented in the kebele.

After meeting the eligibility criteria targeting vulnerable families, Beyenech has been selected among the 1,960 beneficiaries targeted for seed supplementation led by the woreda agriculture office. She received vegetable seeds and began growing carrots, cabbage and tomato in her backyard garden. Beyenech explained, “I started preparing a porridge mixed with vegetables from my garden, using what I learned from the cooking demonstrations at the health post. I also prepare roasted vegetables along with shiro wot [chickpea stew] for the rest of my children.”

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Beyenech, a mother of three, showing her backyard garden. Chamahinbecho kebele, Boloso Sore woreda, SNNPR. ©UNICEF/2017/Pudlowski

Beyenech aspires for her children to have a better future. She wants them to be top students and become teachers or doctors so they have the knowledge and skills to impact the next generation in the community.

“Such type of nutrition interventions that consider integration as a cornerstone by addressing the different aspects of nutrition are a key weapon to combat the problem of malnutrition in a sustainable manner,” said Israel Mulualem, the nutrition focal person in Boloso Sore woreda health office.

The four-year EU-Share programme has been operational since 2015 and continues to support children, mothers and their families in seventeen woredas located in SNNP, Oromia and Amhara regions. Together with the Government of Ethiopia and donors such as the European Union, UNICEF is able to support existing initiatives of Government programmes so that children such as Wubalem, Setot and Teketel may have a bright future.

New EU funding will provide essential nutrition treatment for 130,000 children under the age of five in Ethiopia

03 May 2017, ADDIS ABABA – The European Union (EU) has given €3 million in humanitarian funds to support UNICEF’s emergency interventions in Ethiopia. The new grant will provide life-saving nutrition treatment for severely malnourished children living in drought-affected areas of the country.

In Ethiopia, below-average rainfall has worsened the situation in Somali, Afar, and parts of Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s (SNNP) regions, already severely affected by protracted drought. Access to water, sanitation and health services in these areas is critically low. In addition, livestock deaths have further reduced communities’ capacity to cope, resulting in food and nutrition insecurity. An estimated 303,000 children under the age of five are at risk of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2017.

A boy is being treated for a severe malnutrition at a UNICEF supported stabilization centre“We are grateful for EU’s continuous and generous assistance for life-saving interventions addressing malnutrition at this critical time,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. “We believe that the funding will significantly improve the health condition of children affected by the current drought and reduce the long term impact of malnutrition including life-long cognitive impairments.”

The EU humanitarian funding will support UNICEF to reduce child mortality and morbidity associated with SAM. In order to reach vulnerable children in remote areas, UNICEF will support the Government to expand existing healthcare services and provide treatment supplies – including ready-to-use-therapeutic food (RUTF), therapeutic milk, and medicines. The intervention will also aim at mobilizing communities’ awareness on preventing malnutrition.

“As devastating drought hits pastoral communities in the south and south-east of Ethiopia, bringing in its wake Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) , food and water shortages, the EU is scaling up funding to provide children with vital nutrition care,” said Ségolène de Beco, Ethiopia Head of Office for EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). “Infants and young children are extremely vulnerable to a combination of malnutrition and diseases. To avoid unnecessary deaths and suffering, we need to respond to the needs of these children in time with appropriate treatment and care.”

The concerted efforts of UNICEF with the EU, the Government of Ethiopia and other partners, will relieve the suffering of children while continuing to build long term resilience and strengthening the Government’s capacity to respond to future nutrition emergencies.