Ethiopia: Vital events registration launched

By Nikodimos Alemayehu and Marie Angeline Aquino

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia. August 2016 – Ethiopia launched throughout the country on 4 August 2016 a permanent, compulsory and universal registration and certification of vital events such as birth, death, marriage and divorce.

Vital events registration kicks off in Ethiopia
(L-R) Ms. Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia , H.E Ms Elsa Tesfaye, Director General of Vital Events Registration Agency (VERA), H.E Dr Mulatu Teshome, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and H.E Mr Getachew Ambaye, Attorney General holds a symbolic certificate for birth registration. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

The inauguration ceremony took place in the presence of the Ethiopian President Dr Mulatu Teshome, UNICEF Representative Gillian Mellsop as well as representatives of other ministries and development partners.

“The Government of Ethiopia has given great emphasis to vital events registration across the country by putting the appropriate policies in place, establishing a system up to the lowest administrative level and deploying massive resources in this endeavor,” said Teshome at the ceremony. “I am confident that, with the collaboration and commitment of all stakeholders, we will succeed in the operationalization of the system, just like we have succeeded in other development sectors in the country.”

Mellsop underscored in her address the importance of the registry in protecting children and combatting child trafficking.

‘’With no proof of age and identity, Ethiopian children become a more attractive ‘commodity’ to a child trafficker, and will not even have the minimal protection that a birth certificate provides against early marriage, child labour, or detention and prosecution of the child as an adult.”

Ethiopia ranks among the lowest in sub-Saharan countries on birth registration with less than 10 per cent of children under the age of 5 with their births registered.

The issue is especially urgent because 48 per cent of the 92 million-strong population is under the age of 18 – 90 per cent of whom are unregistered. The Government has committed itself to reaching at least 50 per cent of children with registration and certification services over the next two years.

UNICEF’s support to Ethiopia’s national civil registration is based on a recognition that birth registration is an important element of ensuring the rights and protection of children.

For children, being registered at birth is key to other rights such as access to basic social services, protection, nationality and later the full rights of citizenship, including the right to vote. Moreover, not only is vital events registration essential for compiling statistics that are required to develop policies and implement social services, it is also, as Mellsop points out, “a pre-requisite in measuring equity; for monitoring trends such as child mortality, maternal health and gender equality.”

Inaugural ceremony of National Vital Events Registration in SNNPR capital Hawassa
One-month child Samrawit at a birth registration centre in Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) capital Hawassa August 6, 2016. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

UNICEF has supported the Government in putting in place a decentralized registration and certification system, which is informed by a legislative framework promulgated in August 2012.

UNICEF is a catalyst in creating this new system with support that includes the reform of the legislative framework, the development of a national strategy and its implementation across the country.

An important element of the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system is its interoperability with the health sector. On this aspect, UNICEF has worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Health in its efforts to formalize the interoperability, culminating in the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two ministries.

The important of involving the Health Ministry is because it already has its own well organized and decentralized network stretching across the country. This arrangement allows the health facilities found in nearly every community to manage notifications of births and deaths.

The actual registration and certification of all vital events started on 6 August 2016 at the lowest administrative level of the kebele (sub-district).

With Ethiopia’s new conventional vital events registration system in place, there are better opportunities for accelerating vital events registration in Ethiopia, and realizing one of the fundamental rights of children – the right to be registered upon birth.

In drought-stricken regions, children search for water and a lifeline for their hopes

In drought-stricken regions of SNNPR, children travel for hours to collect water for household needs.
In drought-stricken regions of SNNPR, children travel for hours to collect water for household needs ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

HALABA SPECIAL WOREDA & MAREKO WOREDA, SNNPR, 22 March 2016 – In the northern part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia, bright yellow jerry cans are everywhere: on main roads and dirt roads, carried by hand or piled high on donkey carts being led on long journeys. Whatever the method, the goal is the same: water.

In SNNPR, 73 out of the total 136 rural woredas (districts) are grappling with water scarcity. Out of those, 45 are severely affected. In many of these woredas, water scarcity is an old problem, made much, much worse by the ongoing drought, which is the worst this country has experienced in decades. The result of a double blow of climate change and the El Niño phenomenon, the drought has led to food shortages and threats to livelihoods and survival. 

When there is no water, education takes a backseat

Wogbela, 15, travels to a neighbouring area for water, returning home the next day
Wogbela, 15, travels to a neighbouring area for water, returning home the next day. “I am late to school every day,” he says ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

Lack of water affects everything: food, health, education and children’s futures. In Washe Faka Primary School, located in Washe Faka Kebele (sub-district), Mareko Woreda of SNNPR, approximately 20 students have left school in search of work to support families whose livelihoods have been turned upside down by the drought. The children who remain in school are struggling.

“Students are coming to school with empty stomachs and leaving early because they can’t focus,” says Selfa Doloko, the school principal.

Fifth-grader Wogbela, 15, is struggling too. Every day after school, he travels hours to a water point in a neighbouring area. Because of the distance from his home, he has to stay overnight at a relative’s house. There are closer water points, but the long lines often mean hours of waiting.

“I used to go every other day, but the drought has dried up the ponds here, so I have to get water for the livestock in addition to water for the family,” he says.

In the morning, Wogbela travels home with his supply of water. He is tired by the time he gets home, but has to rush to school. “I am late to school every day,” he says, worried. Education is important to him, but it takes a backseat when there is no water.

Relief in sight

HALABA WOREDA, SNNPR – 24 JANUARY 2016
Munira, 13, is a student at Asore Primary School, located 30 metres away from a new UNICEF-supported water point. “It is much easier now. We can drink and wash easily,” she says. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

This is the story of so many children here, but thankfully for some, there is finally relief in sight.

For the students of Asore Primary School in Halaba Woreda, a new UNICEF-supported water point approximately 30 metres away means a new shot at learning. Students like Munira, 13, an eighth-grader at the school, can finally breathe a sigh of relief. “I used to travel two to three hours a day to fetch water. The wait at the water point was even longer. Sometimes the taps did not work and I would have to spend the whole day there and go home the next day. It was so tiring and a waste of time,” she says, glad that clean water is now just a short walk away.

Abdusamad, 16, another eighth-grader at the school, adds, “Some students had to drop out of school because they had to spend so much time collecting water. I’m more confident now that I can finish my studies and I want to help bring the students who dropped out back to school.”

As part of the drought emergency response, UNICEF, as the WASH cluster lead, is supporting the Government of Ethiopia and other partners in the rehabilitation, maintenance and construction of new water supply systems, provision of water purification and treatment chemicals, scaling up of water trucking activities, and provision of  sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools. UNICEF is also exploring innovative ways to use satellites to detect deep groundwater for large scale, multiple-village water supply systems.

With 5.8 million people around the country in need of access to safe drinking water, UNICEF and partners are racing against the clock to provide urgent help.

For children like Wogbela, it cannot come soon enough. “I hope things change soon,” says Wogbela, “so that I can get back to learning.”

Butajira’s ideal health facilities give hope to ending maternal and new-born death in Ethiopia

By Wossen Mulatu

Butajira Hospital and Health Center Media Visit ahead of the EU-ESDE project lauch, 2 April 2014
Dr. Ayenachew Abebe, Medical Director of Butajira Hospital gives briefing about the activities of the hospital in maternal and new-born health. Butajira Hospital and Health Centre Media Visit ahead of the EU-ESDE project launch, 2 April 2014 ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Fasil

Butajira, 2 April 2014: Around fifteen journalists from eleven media houses visited Butajira hospital and health center to witness firsthand the facilities for mothers and new-borns there.

The media visit was organized by the Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF to show the commendable services provided by Butajira hospital and health centre ahead of the high level launch of the ‘Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia’ (ESDE) which was made possible with EU’s generous €40.2 million grant.

New mother Aster Kebede’s face is filled with grace holding her new baby girl already named Etenesh Gobeza. After an hour of delivery, she has immediately started breast-feeding her child sitting comfortably on the hospital bed. It took her a day to come to the hospital from the neighboring Mareko woreda (district) with her mother Fichage Arega. Now, both of them are proudly sitting close to each other admiring the newly born child and grandchild in relief.

“I am highly content with the service provided here at the hospital. The staff were really kind to me and I had a smooth delivery. I am also grateful that such service is offered for free.” said Aster.

In Ethiopia the most critical period of care for maternal and neonatal mortality reduction (skilled birth attendance) has remained stagnant for the past two decades with only 29 per cent of mothers accessing this essential care. In addition, despite the improvements in reducing under 5 mortality rates, neonatal mortality rate has also remained stagnant showing no significant reduction from 39 in the 2005 to 37 in 2011.

Butajira Hospital and Health Centre Media Visit ahead of the EU-ESDE project launch, 2nd April 2014
Aster Kebede, one hour after delivering her baby girl Etenesh Gobeza describes her experience in the hospital to the media. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Fasil

“Both the quality and quantity of services have increased in the hospital due to the commitment and motivation of the hospital management and its staff to prevent any death of mothers and new-borns” said Andualem Mengistu, Manager of the hospital.

According to Andualem, the range of mothers who deliver at the hospital has increased from 10-15 up to 80-90 mothers per week at present. This significant increase is due to the introduction of free service for mothers who deliver at the hospital, increase in the number of midwives on duty programme and early referral system from the Health Center. In addition, the hospital implements Maternal Death Surveillance and Response (MDSR) and uses volunteers from Voluntary Services Organization (VSO) to fill the staffing and skill gap.

“Giving birth should be a time of happiness and celebration for mothers and not a time of sorrow. And newborns are not predestined to die” said Dr. Asheber Gaym, Health Specialist at UNICEF. “We need to make all our efforts to stop the unnecessary death of mothers and new-born in the country by closely working with the Government and partners” he added.

 Ali Abdella, deputy head of the woreda health unit indicates that, their main objective is to create demand so that mothers deliver at a health facility and not at home. The maternal mortality rate in the city used to be 67 deaths per 10,000 in 2010 and now it has gone down to 6 deaths per 10,000 which is a significant achievement.

According to Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) 2011, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world estimated at 676 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births far from the MDG target of 267.

“We are now aiming at quality service and HDF (Home Delivery Free) community.” he stresses.

Translation of paragraphs from stories by journalists that took part in the media visit are posted here: [With a link to the Amharic story]

[Ethiopian Reporter] Saving a mothers life

Hospitals can solve Maternal health and newborn deaths when they have the necessary  equipments and sustainable supply. To equip new and old hospitals with the necessary equipments to sustain the supply, the European Union  has donated 40 million Euros through a project implemented by Ministry of Health and UNICEF. All health sectors will benefit from this three year project Read more.

[Ethiopian News Agency] The hospital has played a role in reducing maternal and newborn deaths

“Many newborn and maternal lives were saved because of this hospital” says Fetiya “The service is for free, so all mothers should come to the hospital and save the life of their children and themselves” Fetiya conveys her message. Read more

[DW- Amharic] Butajira hospital to benefit from new 40 million Euro EU funded project 

UNICEF and Ethiopian Ministry of Health will work together to achieve MDG5, reduce maternal and newborn deaths , by implementing a new 40 million euro project donated by the European Union. Read more

 

Media visit to Butajira to demonstrate partnerships

WHAT: Media visit to health facilities to demonstrate the partnership of the Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF in maternal and new born health- ahead of the high level launch of European Union’s donation of €40 million for Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE) Project.

WHO: Federal Ministry of Health, European Union, UNICEF

WHEN: WEDNESDAY 2 APRIL, from 7:30am- 4:30pm (Day Trip)

WHERE: Butajira Hospital and Butajira Health Center, SNNPR

WHY: According to EDHS 2011, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world estimated at 676 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births far from the MDG target of 267.

The most critical period of care for maternal and neonatal mortality reduction is skilled birth attendance. However, availability and uptake of this service had remained stagnant until recently.

In addition, despite the improvements in reducing under 5 mortality rates, neonatal mortality rate has also remained stagnant showing no significant reduction from 39 in the 2005 to 37 in 2011. Therefore, maternal and neonate health are now the top priorities in everyone’s agenda.

Accordingly, Butajira Hospital and Health Center have been selected as model facilities that give full maternity service and continuum of care including neonatal care and a coordinated referral system for this visit.

This media visit is organized by Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF.

A media pack regarding the sites will be prepared and shared with you . A resource persons will be on board to respond to your queries.

Please confirm your attendance starting from today up to Monday for logistics purpose.

For interviews or additional information, please contact:

Wossen Mulatu, Communication Officer, Media and External Relation Section, UNICEF Ethiopia, Tel: +251 115 184028, Mobile: +251 911 308483, email: wmulatu[at]unicef.org

SNNPInfo: New database system to support policy analysis and decision making in Ethiopia

By Mekiya Feki

SNNPInfo

The newly established South Nations Nationalities Peoples Regional State data base system, SNNPInfo is launched with the presence of the Bureau of Finance and Economic Development Head Ato Haileberhan Zena Mamo,UNICEF SNNPR Head Joyce Gachiri and many other higher officials. The database can be accessed via the BoFED website, www.snnprsbofed.gov.et/SnnpInfo.

SNNPInfo is based on DevInfo, a database system that harnesses the power of advanced information technology to compile and disseminate data on human development. The system has been endorsed royalty-free by the UN Development Assistance Group (DAG) to assist countries in monitoring achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for deployment on both desktops and the web. DevInfo provides methods to organize, store and display data in a uniform way to facilitate data sharing at the country level across government departments, UN agencies and development partners.

According to the Ethiopia’s RBM strategy, a strong database needs to be developed in order to improve the availability and timely dissemination of comprehensive statistical information to monitor and report the national/regional development efforts, to support policy analysis and decision making of government and development partners. Devinfo also contributes to the current national/regional development plan by supporting national authorities in harmonizing and standardizing collation, dissemination and use of data for planning, monitoring and advocacy.

The United Nations Country Team, with the technical leadership of UNICEF, supported the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) to adopt DevInfo as EthioInfo, the Ethiopian in-country customization in 2006.EthioInfo was envisaged as a tool for strengthening the capacity of counterparts in generating and disseminating data for situation and outcome monitoring of national priorities within the PASDEP (2005-2010) & GTP (2011-2015) and United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). EthioInfo is also a tool for enhancing the dissemination and use of statistical information and contributing to knowledge management efforts in Ethiopia.

In the objective of supporting regional governments put in place a common system for electronic data storage, to better manage the monitoring of key socio-economic indicators and support evidence-based development planning and to track progress towards achievement of regional priorities within the framework of National growth and transformation plan and the MDGs, a regionally owned web- based database, SNNPInfo 1.2 is the third regionally devolved Devinfo database customized for SNNP region next to Amhara and Somali. UNICEF is assisting the regions both technically and financially to avail socio economic data on children and women on timely bases for planning, monitoring, evaluation and advocacy.

SNNPInfo provides standard, accessible and timely benchmark data to partners, planners, policy makers, researchers and the general public for monitoring the GTP and other socio-economic indicators of the region. Currently the database contains 3 years (2010-2012 G.C) socio economic core indicators data selected from the regional GTP under 7 sectors; the future plan is to update the database bi-annually. The database supports both standard and user-defined indicators. It includes maps to administrative level for all zones and all woreda level. It also allows regional government and non-government organizations to link the database to all relevant administrative level data to be able to analyze geographic relationships of key indicators.

SNNPInfo provides easy-to-use facilities for querying the database and based on the data retrieved for producing tables, graphs and maps for inclusion in reports and presentations. Furthermore, it helps the user to export/import data to and from different application software’s like Excel, Pdf and other application software programs. SNNPInfo is a powerful advocacy tool. It is expected to contribute to increase awareness on reporting of GTP/ MDG indicators at regional level among a wide range of stakeholders. It also helps facilitate customer service at different levels by providing data on reliable and timely bases.

In South Omo, Education- a gateway for children but a competition for parents

By Zerihun Sewunet

Students attend class at Alkatekach primary school

DAASANACH, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR), 18 December 2013 – Omorate village in South Omo Zone of the SNNPR is a semi-arid area where the Daasanach tribes live. Their houses are dome-shaped made from a frame of branches, covered with hides and patch works. These houses are scattered along the site where the Omo River delta enters Lake Turkana of Kenya. Most tribes in South Omo are pastoralists. In Omorate too, the people’s lives are bound to the fate of their herds of cattle, sheep and goats that they raise.

Children play a critical role in the pastoralist lifestyle. Boys as young as 6 years old start to herd their family’s sheep and goats, while girls marry very young so parents get additional livestock through dowry. Therefore, parents do not send their children to school. In the Daasanach tribe, education is considered as a luxury. For teachers of Alkatekach Primary School this is their biggest challenge. They use the Alternative Basic Education (ABE) system to cater for the need of the children. The Alternative Basic Education system responds to the urgent need for an education that suits the special needs and constraints of pastoral life. It provides flexible school hours, allowing pastoral children fulfil their household responsibilities of herding cattle to find water and pastures while still finding time for school.

Meseret Chanyalew, Director of the school, explains there is an increase in the number of children from last year because of the continuous effort to enroll and retain students. “We enroll students throughout the year to encourage children to come to school. We also discuss with the community to create awareness on education by going house to house to convince parents to send their children to school.”

Located five kilometers from Omorate town of Kuraz district, the Alkatekach Primary school has only 79 registered students for the 2013/2014 academic year and the highest grade these students can reach is fourth grade. This is because there are no classes set up above the fourth grade.

The Lucky ones in the family go to school

Temesgen Qoshme, 14,  attends a class in Alkatekach primary school14 years old Temesegen Koshme is a third grade student in Alkatekach Primary School. He is sitting in a class exercising the conversion formula for different measurements. His favorite subjects are mathematics and social science. Unlike Temesgen, children his age are taking care of family cattle or are married off. “I prefer coming to school than looking after my parents’ cattle. Alkatekach is where I grasp knowledge,” says Temesgen, “When I go to school in the morning my brother and sister look after the cattle. After school, I go straight to the field to take over”.

Temesgen’s parents told him that his younger sister is waiting to be married off, “I tried to explain that she has to come to school, but they did not listen to me” says Temesgen concerned about his sister’s future. Temesgen is one of the lucky ones to be enrolled this year. For him school is his happiest place.

Agure Amite, a father of twelve, living in Omorate village, sends two of his children to Alkatekach Primary School. When asked why the others do not go to school he says, “Some of them have to look after my cattle and others are not ready for school because they are below 10 years old.” Some parents in the Daasanach tribe send their children to school when they reach age 10. However, nationally children start school at age 7.

Alternative Basic Education (ABE) accommodates the pastoral children

Children, not students, play at Alkatekach Primary SchoolThe 2012 study on situation of out of school children in Ethiopia shows that SNNPR has 46.5% of out of school children making it the third highest region after Oromia (49.2%) and Amhara (48.7%).

With the support of UNICEF and the generous donation of US$240, 000 received from ING the Daasanach tribe now has ABE centers close to in their area. In addition to the construction of ABE centers, ING’s support also helped to provide furniture, training for ABE facilitators and education materials to pastoralist and economically disadvantaged children. For Meseret and her colleagues at the Alkatekach Primary School, this means increasing the schools capacity up to sixth grade means that children like Temesgen will be able to receive education within their community for the next two years.