EU’s Satellite images provide life saving water to drought affected communities in Ethiopia

By Samuel Godfrey

An ongoing UNICEF supported borehole drill in Musle Kebele of Kore Woreda.
An ongoing UNICEF supported borehole drill in Musle Kebele of Kore Woreda. The borehole drilling site was identified through combined remote sensing technology with conventional methodologies (hydrogeology and geophysics). © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

Ethiopia is in the middle of an El Nino induced drought which has left 5.8 million people across the country without access to adequate water. More than 220 districts of Ethiopia are facing water related emergencies that arise due to either a lack of availability or quality of water.

As the WASH cluster lead, UNICEF supports 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. In addition, UNICEF is exploring innovative ways to use satellites to detect deep groundwater for large scale, multiple-village water supply systems. As part of the overall drought emergency response, UNICEF supports programmes in child protection, education, health and nutrition.

Groundwater, compared to rivers/lakes or other surface water, supplies 80 percent of all drinking water in Ethiopia. Water from the groundwater aquifers supports emergency water supply, urban water supply and livestock watering. With limited rains, many of these shallow groundwater wells have run dry and these communities rely on expensive commercial trucks to haul in water.

The more sustainable groundwater is located at extremely deep depths. In some cases, more than 300 metres below the ground which is the equivalent in height of the Empire State Building. To locate water that deep and then to drill and extract it is a major challenge.

Satellite image of Afar Elidar woreda Potential drilling sites
Satellite image of Afar Elidar woreda potential drilling sites

To tackle this problem, the European Union and UNICEF have selected 9 of the worst affected districts across Ethiopia to use ‘satellite’ technology to locate groundwater. The EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) are providing their expertise by availing ‘no cost’ satellite images which depict the physical and topographical characteristics of the districts from satellites 100s of KM in the sky. These are then combined by UNICEF hydrogeology experts to locate appropriate sites for the drilling of essential deepwells for drought affected communities.

Results to date are extremely encouraging that it should be expanded to a larger scale of the country. On a recent visit to a well sited using this technique in Afar, the UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake said “This approach is very cost-effective, compared to delivering water by truck. Indeed, every permanent well costs the equivalent of only three deliveries of water by truck.”

Mr. Lake added “This is only the beginning. With our partners in the European Union and the Government of Ethiopia we are expanding this effort through out the country, distributing water to villages, schools, health centres and cattle troughs.”

UNICEF would like to express its thanks to the European Union Delegation and the EU-JRC, for their establishment of a remote sensing partnership with UNICEF and providing the un-reserved support so far, which we believe to be strengthen and extended further in the future.

Innovative approaches like these are already showing results for boys and girls in the hard to reach areas of Ethiopia.

Dr. Samuel Godfrey is Chief of WASH for UNICEF Ethiopia, and has a PhD and MSc in Civil Engineering and Water and Waste Engineering.

UNICEF’s largest global purchase of Therapeutic Food for children in drought-stricken Ethiopia through donor support

Drought in Ethiopia
A mother feeds a her malnourished child a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), a high protein and high energy peanut-based paste, in Arsi zone, Oromia, Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, after two years of erratic rainfall and drought, one of the most powerful El Niño weather events for 50 years is wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

ADDIS ABABA, 22 April 2016 – Today, UNICEF thanked donors for their generous contributions and the Government for its strong leadership, which together have enabled a concerted response to the current El Niño driven drought in Ethiopia, particularly in treating children with severe malnutrition.

With support from donors, UNICEF has procured 543,631 cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), which represents 22 per cent of the global order for 2015 and is one of the largest single purchases in UNICEF’s history. The donors include the Governments of Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States and partners including ECHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

To date in 2016, UNICEF procured in 2015 a further 73,344 cartons of RUTF out of a global procurement estimated at 565,623 cartons, which corresponds to 13 per cent of the global supply. In addition to RUTF, other supplies including therapeutic milk, routine drugs and hygiene and sanitation commodities have been procured as part of the drought response. To accommodate this large volume of supplies and enhance preparedness for the drought response, UNICEF rented a new warehouse in the Gerji area of Addis Ababa, earlier this year.

“On behalf of the Government of Ethiopia and UNICEF, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the humanitarian donors for their timely and generous financial contributions to purchase Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food that will save the lives of millions of children diagnosed with severe malnutrition,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. “I would also like to especially thank the Ethiopian Customs Authority, the Ethiopian Food Medicine and Health Care Administration and Akakas Logistics, this enormous supply chain operation would not have been possible without their active support. By accelerating our joint nutrition interventions, we can transform the lives of millions of children to become healthy citizens and reach their full potential.”

Ethiopia is experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades due to El Niño weather condition which continues to wreak havoc on the lives of children and their families’ livelihoods. According to the latest Humanitarian Requirement Document issued this year, 6 million children are at risk from hunger, disease and lack of water. Malnutrition rates have greatly increased – 450,000 children are expected to be treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) this year.

Inauguration of new UNICEF warehouse
Inauguration of new UNICEF warehouse (L-R) Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of the Federal Ministry of Health, and Ms. Emma William, Deputy Head, DFID Ethiopia ©UNICEf Ethiopia/2016/Tsegaye

As part of the joint drought response coordinated by the Government, UNICEF is leading the Nutrition, Water Sanitation Hygiene, Education (together with Save the Children) clusters and the Child Protection sub-cluster. Together with other partners, UNICEF implements life-saving humanitarian responses including procurement and supply of therapeutic food and milk, drugs, other medical supplies, plus water/sanitation and education and child protection supplies.

UNICEF also supports the treatment of severely malnourished children through the community-based management of acute malnutrition, with training, quality assurance and coordination with other partners. Regular nutrition screening helps ensure that malnutrition in children is diagnosed and treated early, thereby reducing cases of severe acute malnutrition and life-threatening complications.

The supply of RUTF procured by UNICEF to date to respond to the current emergency is worth US$28 million including freight and in-country distribution. With the continued effort of the Government and support from humanitarian actors, 350,451 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition in 2015.

Reuniting Ethiopia’s children with their families after migration horrors

By Paul Schemm

UNICEF- IOM partnership on assisted voluntary returning children from Ethiopia
Ahmad, 17, demonstrates how traffickers in Yemen held him for ransom. A joint project between UNICEF, the International Organization of Migration and the Ethiopian Government, the transit centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia reunites migrant children with their families. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mulugeta Ayene

ADDIS ABABA, March 31, 2016 – As Ahmad* was being chased through the Yemeni desert by the motorcycle-riding human traffickers that had tortured and beat him in their camp for months, he thought he would never see his home village in southern Ethiopia again.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it home,” recalled the young 17-year-old with an expressive face and wide eyes as he described his five months of attempted migration to Saudi Arabia that resulted in him getting ransomed by traffickers twice and ended in a harrowing midnight escape when he rolled off the truck containing bodies of fellow migrants he had been sent to help bury.

Ahmad is now safe in a transit centre in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, just a few short days away from the trip back home and being reunited with his family as part of a collaboration between UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration and the Ethiopian Government.

The lure of migration

UNICEF- IOM partnership on assisted voluntary returning children from Ethiopia
Children play ping pong in the courtyard of the transit centre where they await their return to their families after failed attempts to migrate. A joint project between UNICEF, the International Organization of Migration and the Ethiopian Government, the transit centre reunites migrant children with their families. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mulugeta Ayene

Thousands of Ethiopians leave the country searching for opportunities, with many heading for oil-rich Saudi Arabia via the Red Sea port of Djibouti and through Yemen, which is currently deeply embroiled in a civil war.

Many are preyed upon by human traffickers who often leave them stranded, or worse hold them for ransom. Many who make the trip are minors left stranded far from home.

UNICEF and the IOM have begun bringing these children back to Ethiopia and housing them for a week in the Addis Ababa transit centre while their families are contacted.

“Most of them have travelled through very harsh circumstances, some were robbed and they all went long days without food,” said centre director Mohammed Farah who just last week sent almost hundred children back to their homes. “Most of them are traumatized.”

The children are given new clothes, showers and counselling to try to overcome some of the experiences they have been through.

Many are at first uncommunicative but with time and group therapy they begin to interact with their peers, said Farah.

The centre helped bring home 598 children in 2015 and already in the first few months of 2016 it has sent another 157 to their families, including 10 girls. Families receive a 1,000 birr (US$50) resettling aid as well.

Most of the children helped by the programme are between 15 and 17 years-old but there are cases of even younger children caught up in the lure to immigrate.

The IOM-UNICEF partnership to bring these children back to their families has been singled out by the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional office as a success story.

Coping with the trauma

UNICEF- IOM partnership on assisted voluntary returning children from Ethiopia
Kabir, 16, looks out the window of the transit center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he awaits the journey back to his family that he hasn’t seen for the past five months. The joint project between UNICEF, the International Organization of Migration and the Ethiopian Government reunites children migrants with their families. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mulugeta Ayene

Sitting in the clean, white-washed activities room, Zerihun*, 17, talked about being ransomed by traffickers in Yemen and beaten repeatedly when his family couldn’t provide the money.

“They beat me until I became really sick and then they thought I would die so they left me outside,” he recalled, admitting that he still has trouble sleeping from the trauma. In the end, he survived the terrible experience and was able to run off into the desert and find a Yemeni village. There, he received assistance that eventually put him in contact with the IOM, enabling him to return home.

Some migrant children at the centre said they left for Saudi Arabia because they had seen many others go and thought it was a chance to make something of their lives  and return with money.

Kabir*, just 16-year-old, thought he could use his skills as a herder and help manage the massive herds of sheep and goats imported into Saudi Arabia annually for the Muslim feasts, but he too just ended up ransomed by traffickers who had hired Ethiopians to communicate – and beat – their prisoners.

He said when he returned home, he would be sure to warn others about the perils of migration.

“I want to restart my education and help my family,” said Kabir. “It is death if you go there – it is better to transform oneself and thrive inside your own country, that’s what I would tell them.”

*Names changed to protect the children’s identities.

EU gives €3 million to improve the nutritional status of children in Ethiopia

Funds to reach over one million beneficiaries in Ethiopia 

Asmera Bere feeds her son, Amanuel Shibabaw, feeds to her child a nutritious porridge made from locally available products, at the health post as a demonstration to cook at home
Asmera Bere feeds her son, Amanuel Shibabaw, a nutritious porridge made from locally available products, at the health post as a demonstration to cook at home ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

ADDIS ABABA, 21 March 2016 – The European Commission today announced a €3 million grant to UNICEF to improve the nutrition for severely malnourished children in the drought affected areas in Ethiopia. 

The EU funding aims to strengthen the current emergency response and reach an estimated 40,000 Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) children. It will help provide supplies (40,000 boxes of Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and 19,700 packs of amoxicillin). The funds will also support one round of Extended Outreach Strategy (EOS) screening which provides biannual vitamin A supplementation and de-worming to children under 5 years of age. Screening for acute malnutrition for children and pregnant and lactating women will also be covered.

“The El Niño phenomenon is impacting entire regions in Africa, notably Ethiopia. The EU support will help UNICEF provide life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable. It will help more than a million children suffering from malnutrition get treatment,” said Jean-Louis De Brouwer, Director of Operations in the European Commission’s Humanitarian and Civil Protection department (ECHO).

“We are grateful to the EU for its continued support for life saving interventions addressing malnutrition in Ethiopia,” said UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Ms Gillian Mellsop. “Children are always the most vulnerable group in emergencies but when support is made available, we can change their lives for the better.”

The EU funding targets close to half a million children under the age of five along with nearly 140 000 pregnant and lactating women in the Somali region. UNICEF, at the request of the Government, is responsible for the procurement of supplies for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) management as a key input to the emergency nutrition responses throughout the country. It also provides technical and financial support to ensure programme quality and coverage. 

UNICEF is supporting the Government in responding to the emergency by scaling up and strengthening the treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition, increasing the intensity and frequency of screening of children and pregnant and lactating women, and ensuring key preventative nutrition services are provided to prevent excess morbidity and mortality.

According to the revised Humanitarian Requirement Document (HRD), over 10.2 million people in need of food aid and estimated 435,000 in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition by the end of 2016. This has significantly devastated livelihoods and greatly compromised the health and wellbeing of children and women, through malnutrition and hygiene-related diseases across Ethiopia with six regions hit particularly hard.

New Analysis Finds Encouraging Results on Nutrition Sector in Ethiopia

Launch of document entitled “Situation Analysis of the Nutrition Sector in Ethiopia” from 2000-2015
Left-Right: H.E Ms. Chantal Hebberecht, Ambassador of the European Union, Mr. Birara Melese, National Nutrition Programme Team Coordinator, Ms. Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, at the launch of a document entitled “Situation Analysis of the Nutrition Sector in Ethiopia” from 2000-2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Tesfaye

In recent years, the global momentum on nutrition has been growing rapidly. The Scaling-Up Nutrition Movement has united world leaders and brought the UN, governments, civil society and the private sector together in a collective effort to improve nutrition through shared goals and resources to effectively scale up nutrition policies and programmes.

Ethiopia’s continued reduction of extreme poverty and chronic malnutrition has received international recognition and continues to inspire the international community to remain ambitious in the level of progress it aims to achieve.

Today, 10 March 2016, a document entitled Situation Analysis of the Nutrition Sector in Ethiopia from 2000-2015 was launched which was made possible through funding provided by the European Union to UNICEF, as part of the EU+ Joint Cooperation Strategy for Ethiopia, which aims to ensure a coherent and consistent response to Ethiopia’s development challenges.

Speaking at the launch of the situation analysis, Ms. Chantal Hebberecht, Ambassador of the European Union said, “The study has synthesised the trend and causal analysis of undernutrition, mapping of nutrition specific and sensitive interventions and gap and opportunity analysis. In so doing, it has tried to provide evidence based guidance for future nutrition related policies and interventions in the country.”

As the world embarks on a new sustainable development agenda, the Government of Ethiopia and its development partners can look back on the 15 years of remarkable progress in the Nutrition sector through this Situation Analysis document that we are launching here today. The findings of the Situation Analysis provide evidence of a steady and substantial improvement in stunting over the last 15 years in Ethiopia where the stunting prevalence has dropped from 57 percent to 40 percent. At the same time, food consumption and expenditure have increased on average from about 2,200 calories per household per day in the year 2000 to 2,450 calories per household per day in 2011.

UNICEF applauds the achievements made and the strong commitment of the Government of Ethiopia to improve the nutritional status among children and women, encouraging continued development and expansion of policies and programmes for nutrition interventions. However, there is still a long way to go and the eradication of undernutrition among children and women will require multi-sectoral efforts to ensure a more equitable and sustainable impact.

The report highlights critical gaps in terms of existing policies and programmes which we must address urgently to accelerate nutrition results for women and children.

Some of the key findings of the situation analysis report includes; educating mothers as key factor for improving nutrition, high risk factors for child stunting associated with poor water supply and sanitation and the need to improve production diversity, nutrition knowledge and women’s’ empowerment by making sure that diverse and nutritious foods are available and accessible at all times. In addition, the study highlights the need to expand existing nutrition programmes to improve undernutrition in the Developing Regional States (DRS) with increased resources and improved targeting.

These findings from the situation analysis will be key to inform programming for a wide range of nutrition specific and nutrition-sensitive stakeholders in Ethiopia. The findings will feed into the second National Nutrition Programme (2015-2020), which targets to reduce child stunting prevalence to 26 percent by 2020, as well as the second Agricultural Growth Programme which strives to increase agricultural productivity with a ‘nutrition lens’.

The recommendations in the situation analysis will help support the Government in the realisation of the Growth and Transformation Plan 2 and the achievement of the Seqota Declaration to make undernutrition, in particular child undernutrition, a history in Ethiopia.

Malnutrition is one of the greatest symptoms of injustice and inequality that we are fighting in Ethiopia today. By accelerating our joint nutrition interventions, we can transform the lives of millions of children to become healthy citizens and reach their full potential with their hopes and opportunities restored.

UNICEF and EU save new-born lives in rural Ethiopia

By Efa Workineh, CBNC Project Officer, Save the Children, Ethiopia; Tadesse Bekele, Regional Programme Manager, Save the Children, Ethiopia; Hailemariam Legesse, Health Specialist, UNICEF Ethiopia; Asheber Gaym, Health Specialist, UNICEF Ethiopia  

Ginde Beret
Elias with mother Shure after completion of his new-born sepsis treatment provided at the village health post ©SCI/2015/Efa Workineh

Abuna Gindeberet Woreda is one of the eighteen woredas (districts) found in West Shoa Zone, Oromia Regional State, 182 km west of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

Baby Elias Suyum Belacho was born in Guro Furto health centre in Gartoke Kebele (sub district) of Abuna Gindeberet Woreda on September 20 2015.  His mother, Shure Negasa and father, Suyum Belacho took good care of Elias, the fourth born in the family, even prior to his birth.  During her pregnancy, Shure attended three Ante Natal Care (ANC) visits at the Guro Furto health centre. Unfortunately, she had not received the required post-natal visit schedule following her delivery.

When Elias was three weeks old, he attended the routine community based new-born care assessment provided as part of the community based new-born care programme of the national Health Extension Programme (HEP) package. (The HEP is a community health programme covering the whole of Ethiopia provided by two female community health workers (health extension workers) working at rural health posts, at present over 38,000 health extension workers are providing services in over 16,000 health posts across Ethiopia. The community based new-born care programme (CBNC) is one of the key public health interventions provided by HEP through extensive partner support. UNICEF is the major supporter of CBNC scale up in Ethiopia). Emushe Abebe, the health extension worker providing CBNC noted that Elias’ respiration rate was found to be 72 breaths per minutes in two counts; much higher than the upper limit of 60 expected at his age. During the assessment, Emushe asked Shure if she has noted any other symptoms that Elias has been showing recently. Shure explained that Elias had been coughing for the last two days. Thanks to her Community Based New-born Care (CBNC) training, the health extension worker correctly diagnosed Elias’ condition as new-born sepsis; a potentially lethal advanced infection in new-borns. In addition, she found out that Elias was underweight, which was caused by not enough breastfeeding.  As per her CBNC training, she classified Elias’s condition to be very severe. Shure was not aware that she had to breastfeed at least eight times per day and because she did not realise that Elias was seriously sick, she never reached out for medical assistance.

After counselling by the health extension worker, Shure agreed to start the treatment at home immediately and to continue taking Elias to the health post. 48 hours after initiating the standardised (Chart Booklet) treatment with gentamicin and amoxicillin antibiotics, the HEW assessed the status of the child and found that he was rapidly improving. By now he was physically stable:  he showed a lower breathing rate of 48/minute and he was breastfed more than 10 times a day. Following the seven days’ full course treatment, Elias completely recovered from his illness.

Elias’ mother Shure Negasa, who was not aware of her child being in life threatening condition, has promised to seriously take care for her new-born child and other children. From now onwards she will seek health care when ever needed and she will teach her neighbour’s what she experienced.

When Ethiopia along with 196 other countries signed the Millennium Declaration in New York in 2000, maternal and child health situation was bad for the majority of the population. Under five mortality rate – number of children dying before their fifth birthday from 1000 born alive- in 1990 (the beginning of measurements for the MDGs) was 222; one of the highest in the world. Many were sceptical that the country would achieve the targeted reduction of two thirds of the 1990 levels by 2015. Against all odds, the country has achieved child health target of the millennium development goals MDG 4 three years ahead of 2015 by reducing the 1990 child mortality rate to less than 68 child deaths per 1000 live births.

Clear health policy and strong implementation supported by coordinated international partnership; a large scale community health programme targeting rural villages through the health extension programme; sustained investments in health and sustained economic growth are among the reasons for this success story.

Highly appreciable as the improvements in child health are, an under five mortality rate of 68 translates to the unacceptable number of over 200,000 child deaths annually. More than 43 per cent of these child deaths occur during the first 28 days following child birth (the neonatal period) the majority occurring in the few days following birth. Breathing difficulties; premature birth and new-born infections/sepsis are responsible for the majority of neonatal deaths and most are preventable or easily treatable with currently available medical care. Access to health care is nevertheless essential to obtain the benefits of these lifesaving interventions. For the tens of thousands of new-borns born at home and far from health facilities, accessing these lifesaving interventions have been largely impossible.

To overcome this formidable challenge to access key new-born health interventions, Ethiopia in collaboration with its major child health partners including UNICEF has adopted novel public health interventions of ICCM/CBNC (Integrated community case management of childhood illnesses/ community based new-born care). ICCM/CBNC interventions rely on task shifting of key child health interventions responsible for majority of child deaths to community health workers who receive training on detection and treatment of key childhood illnesses at home or at village clinics (health posts). They also timely refer new-borns and older children with severe illnesses to higher level care.

The EU-ESDE (European Union- Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia) project, allocated Euro 42 million for a three-year support to maternal and new-born health to Ethiopia from 2014-2016. The EU is one of the major partners for the national scale up of ICCM/CBNC programme in Ethiopia. Since its inception in 2013, the ICCM/CBNC programme has rapidly scaled up to increase availability of CBNC services in 75 per cent of the total health posts in the country. Key interventions of the programme include training and mentoring of health extension workers on key skills of detections of new-borns and infants with illness through clear symptoms and signs and provision of essential interventions including provision of antibiotics to sick new-borns.  

Emushe Abebe, the HEW who provided the critical intervention that saved the life of Elias is one of the 2500 health extension workers who received training through EU-ESDE (European Union- Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia) project support. She is saving lives of many children like Elias, and teaches mothers like Shure the importance of seeking health care.

Maternal and New-born supplies handed over to Enhance Skills for Delivery in Ethiopia

Maternal and New-born supplies handed over to Enhance Skills for Delivery in Ethiopia
Maternal and New-born supplies handed over to Enhance Skills for Delivery in Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Sewunet

ADDIS ABABA, 26 January 2016 Today, a handover ceremony was held at Kotebe Primary Hospital to deliver essential basic emergency obstetric and new-born care supplies and a full set of anaesthesia and operation theatre equipment as part of the “Enhancing Skills for Delivery in Ethiopia” (ESDE) project.

The handover ceremony was attended by H.E Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health, Mr. Thomas Huyghebaert, Head of Governance, Economic and Social Section of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia, Ms. Patrizia DiGiovanni, Officer in Charge, UNICEF Ethiopia and representatives from Addis Ababa City Administration Health Bureau, Yeka City Administration Health Bureau, Kotebe Hospital administration and members of the media.

In April 2014, the ESDE project agreement was signed between the Federal Ministry of Health, EU and UNICEF for an amount of 1.1 billion birr (€40.2 million) which represented one of the largest grants to maternal health ever provided to Ethiopia. This funding from the EU is used to scale-up maternal health and new-born care for a three year period (2014-2016) in Ethiopia. Of this grant, €20 million is allocated to the MDG Pool Fund of the Federal Ministry of Health and the remaining half to UNICEF to procure the essential maternal and new-born supplies and equipment.

Through this project nationally, 500 health centres and 55 hospitals are supported with essential basic emergency obstetric and new-born care supplies and equipment which enables them to handle most maternal and new-born complication. Moreover, 55 primary hospitals have received full set of anaesthesia and operation theatre equipment, which helps to provide emergency caesarean and other essential lifesaving operative procedures.

To complement the supply component, the project supports training of 5000 Health Extension Workers to provide community based new-born sepsis management, 1000 midwives and nurses on competency based basic emergency obstetric and new-born care, mentoring and supportive supervision and 50 hospital staff on advanced new-born care.

Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health at the Maternal and New-born supplies hand over to Enhance Skills for Delivery in Ethiopia
Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health at the Maternal and New-born supplies hand over to Enhance Skills for Delivery in Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Sewunet

At the handover ceremony, Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health said, “This key contribution comes at a crucial time when Ethiopia has made considerable progress in promoting primary health care service provision through the Health Extension Programme and launched the Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP) and is working towards ending preventable child and maternal mortality through committing to the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Mr. Thomas Huyghbaert, Head of Governance, Economic and Social Section of the European Union Delegation to Ethiopia, on his part said, “The EU is very confident that the soft and hardware support of ESDE will help Ethiopian health systems in providing quality maternal and new-born health care and will further bring down child and maternal mortality rates.”

In Ethiopia, up to 15 per cent of mothers and new-borns suffer serious complications that require referral to facilities providing comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care (CEmONC) services including caesarean sections, blood transfusions and emergency laparotomy. However, the availability of CEmONC has been limited with only over a hundred hospitals having the capacity to provide the service.

“UNICEF is privileged to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Health and the European Union to procure the most essential maternal and new-born care supplies and improve the quality and accessibility of services for skilled birth attendance. We hope that this collaboration helps to significantly reduce maternal and neonatal deaths in Ethiopia and save precious lives,” said Ms Patrizia DiGiovanni, Officer in Charge, UNICEF Ethiopia.

Nationally, the ESDE project is benefitting 625,000 mothers and new-borns annually from improved access to maternal and new-born health services – a quarter of annual national deliveries. In the three year implementation period, the project is supporting close to 2 million mothers and new-borns.