Researchers in Action for African children

Researchers from around the continent are gathered this week in Addis Ababa to Put Children First!

In Africa, two billion babies will be born between today and 2050, translating into more than 60 million new lives every year. By 2055, the continent of Africa will be home to 1 billion children, nearly 40 per cent of the number of children worldwide.  Therefore, as noted in the conference by UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Ms Leila Pakkala, nowhere in the world are children more central to a continent’s future than in Africa and “children must be put first”.

Putting Children First: Identifying Solutions and Taking Action to Tackle Child Poverty and  Inequality in Africa
Policy makers, practitioners and researchers discussing better ways in identifying solutions for fighting child poverty and inequality in Africa. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/Meklit Mersha

The international conference with the theme: Putting Children First-Identifying Solutions and Taking Action to Tackle Child Poverty and Inequality in Africa has been promoted by the End Child Poverty Global Coalition and organized at national level by the Ethiopian Centre for Child Research (ECCR) with UNICEF Ethiopia’s support. The Centre is currently establishing partnerships and research collaborations with potential researchers and research institutes nationally and globally.

At the conference, the Ethiopian Minister of Women and Children’s affairs stated, “Because of the Government and its development partners’ efforts, national poverty rates have seen a significant reduction over the past decade in Ethiopia, decreasing from 39 per cent in 2003 to 29 per cent in 2011. However, the decrease in poverty over the past few years has not matched the rate of economic growth, suggesting that economic growth has partly failed to benefit the most vulnerable sectors of society. Women and children are one of the least benefited and vulnerable sections in the society”.

ECCR will share an analysis on the dynamics of multi-dimensional poverty among children in Ethiopia which was also jointly presented with UNICEF Ethiopia at the Child Poverty Conference for MENA in Rabat and at the 6th International Society for Child Indicators in Canada.

Using an adaptation of the Multiple Overlapping Deprivations Approach, it has been showed that share of children who are deprived in two or more poverty dimensions, such as lack of appropriate or access to health and education services or poor quality of housing declined from 82 per cent to 35 per cent between 2002 and 2013. In the meantime, the percentage of children non-deprived increased from 18 per cent in 2002 to 65 per cent in 2013.

For researchers and other professionals in various fields, children should be the top-most priority as we all look for pathways to unlock poverty and inequality in the continent. The ongoing conference would be a great opportunity for practitioners and policy makers from Africa to contribute to the overall debate on child poverty-towards contributing to address child poverty in all its dimensions while promoting evidence generation.

Sweden Signs an Agreement with UNICEF to Build an Integrated Safety Net System for the Most Vulnerable Women and Children in Ethiopia

The Government avails US$ 9.2 million contribution to implement the programme in five years

12 October 2017, ADDIS ABABA – The Government of Sweden provided US$9.2 million to UNICEF Ethiopia to support a national integrated safety net system for the most vulnerable women and children in both rural and urban parts of the country. The initial phase will provide direct cash support to 1,000 households in Amhara region and 1,000 households in Addis Ababa with the objective to scale up innovations for the 8 million Rural Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) beneficiaries and the envisaged 4.7 million urban poor who are going to benefit from the Urban PSNP. The programme will be implemented from 2017 to 2022.

The objective of this programme is to implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures which ensure increased access to a comprehensive package of social protection interventions and services to poor and vulnerable citizens coping with social and economic risks, vulnerabilities and deprivations. It also aims to strengthen the Government’s capacity to develop, implement, coordinate and monitor a national, child-sensitive social protection system in the country.

At the signing ceremony, H.E Mr Torbjörn Petterson, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia said, “In spite of existing challenges, it is impressive to see strong government commitment, financially as well as technically, to support the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP). Partnering with UNICEF in this particular endeavour, gives us leverage in terms of significant experience with previously supported pilot programmes which helped inform the design of PSNP 4.”

The first joint pilot project supported by UNICEF in Tigray, which MoLSA implemented between 2012-2015 together with the Tigray Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs (BoLSA), was guided by a rigorous evidence generation plan and demonstrated the role of community care structures and social workers. As a result, community care structures and social workers have since become crucial components of the national social protection system – a major milestone towards establishing a countrywide social welfare workforce.

Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia and Mr Torbjörn Petterson, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia signing the grant agreement. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/Demissew Bizuwerk

“This timely contribution from SIDA will allow us to build on the rich experience of these successful pilot interventions. We are also expanding existing multi-sectoral linkages and will explore synergies between different public social protection measures, for example between PSNP and Community Based Health Insurance,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. “We embrace this partnership with great enthusiasm since the outcome of the programme will extend beyond the pilot regions and further assist the Government of Ethiopia and UNICEF to develop a nationwide social protection system that is child sensitive and which prioritizes the most vulnerable and marginalized.”

Despite Ethiopia’s significant economic growth over the past decades, 32 per cent of Ethiopian children still live in poverty. Building an integrated and child sensitive social protection system, which focuses on those left behind, is a critical element in ensuring more inclusive development to the benefit of all children.

With the provision of access to an integrated social protection system in urban and rural areas, the programme aims to contribute to long-term poverty alleviation. In addition, the programme is expected to have a significant impact on the nutrition, health and education-related status of the target groups with a focus on adolescent girls. Furthermore, the proposed interventions will provide solid evidence to enable relevant government authorities to implement efficient and effective integrated social protection measures which will inform annual reviews of the social protection sector and future phases of national programmes such as the PSNP and the Urban PSNP.


UNICEF Signs Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2010 Work Plans with Government

By Metasebia Solomon

ADDIS ABABA, 30 June 2017- UNICEF Ethiopia signed the Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2010 annual work plans with the Federal and Regional Government under the umbrella of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF 2016-2020).  The signing ceremony, held at the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Commission’s office, was attended by Heads of United Nations agencies including UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF and the implementing Federal and Regional Government offices as signatories of the annual work plans.

Mr Admasu Nebebe, State Minister for Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, speaking after signing the work plans, said “Implementation of the signed work plans will contribute to the achievement of Ethiopia’s current Growth and Transformation Plan [GTP II]. The results and activities are linked to the Government’s priorities at all levels.” UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Officer-in-Charge, Ms. Shalini Bahuguna, applauded the Government of Ethiopia’s leadership in implementing the annual work plans, saying “A recent review conducted by UNICEF’s global team has identified the annual work planning process of Ethiopia as a model for other country offices, demonstrating principle of alignment with government policy and ownership by stakeholders.”


UNICEF signs Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2010 Work Plans with government
Ato Admasu Nebebe, State Minister for Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation shakes hands with Ms Shalini Bahuguna, UNICEF representative to Ethiopia, O.i.C after signing the Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Work Plan. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2017/Zerihun Sewunet

The work plans were prepared under the logic that the accomplishment of activities will contribute to the achievement of UNICEF’s and UNDAF’s intermediate and higher level results, which are in support of GTP II.  A consultative process was followed during the preparation of the work plans at the Regional and Federal level.  This year, UNICEF Ethiopia signed 143 work plans with more than 140 Regional and Federal Government implementing partners. The work plans cover fifteen programme areas including:

  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Education
  • Early Warning and Disaster Preparedness
  • Water Supply
  • Sanitation and Hygiene
  • Child Friendly Social Welfare
  • Social Protection
  • Adolescents and HIV/AIDS
  • Violence against Children
  • Ending Child Marriage and FGM
  • Birth Registration
  • Justice for Children
  • Child Rights
  • Public Finance for Children
  • Evidence and Coordination

The total budget equals US$ 74,867,075.  Implementation of the work plans will start on the 1st of July 2017 and will close on the 30th of June 2018, following the Ethiopian Fiscal Year.

Ethiopian Centre for Child Research

The Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) has established the Ethiopian Centre for Child Research (ECCR) in partnership with UNICEF Ethiopia and Addis Ababa University. The ECCR is inspired by the collaborative work of EDRI and Young Lives Longitudinal Research in Ethiopia as well as the Child Research and Practice Forum, which was also initiated by EDRI, Young Lives and other partners.

Located within the EDRI, ECCR is coordinated by a small team and overseen by a multi-stakeholder advisory board which includes: Addis Ababa University, Central Statistical Agency, EDRI, Education Strategy Centre, Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, Ministry of Youth and Sports, National Planning Commission, UNICEF and Young Lives Project.

The mission of the ECCR is to generate multidisciplinary child-focused research and evidence on policy and practice to inform decision and enhance programmatic capacity concerning the development, equity, wellbeing and protection for children in Ethiopia.

 Current Research Activities 

With funding from UNICEF Ethiopia, ECCR and UNICEF jointly presented the main findings from the Chronic Poverty Report at the ‘Child Poverty Conference in the Middle East and North Africa’ in Morocco on 15-17 May, 2017.

The ECCR is currently establishing partnerships and research collaborations with potential researchers and research institutes nationally and globally with initial funding support from UNICEF Ethiopia. The ECCR conducts fundraising activities to ensure the continuous functioning of the centre.

UNICEF Ethiopia has been instrumental in the establishment of the ECCR by providing start-up funding, in addition to undertaking child-focused collaborative research. While the UNICEF-EDRI partnership is expected to continue, ECCR plans to expand its scope of activities and is looking for potential funders in specific areas of child research.



Cash transfers recognized as most effective way to build resiliency among the poor 

Johannesburg/Addis Ababa- 15 November 2016 –  New evidence released today shows that social cash transfers are working in Africa, and that giving cash to families is leading to numerous positive outcomes, including reducing poverty among the most vulnerable.

 In a new book, From Evidence to Action: The Story of Cash Transfers and Impact Evaluations in Sub-Saharan Africa – launched in Johannesburg today – UNICEF, FAO, and other partners showcase the positive impacts cash transfer programmes have had in eight Sub-Saharan countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe).

“Cash transfers are enabling the poorest families to substantially increase food consumption and improve overall food security,” says Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, Regional Director for UNICEF in Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office. “While cash alone is not enough to solve all problems, it is increasingly helping families avoid negative coping strategies, such as taking children out of school, or selling off assets.”

At the Mail & Guardian “Critical Thinking Forum” organized to launch the book, Government and UN representatives discussed what’s working and what challenges remain with national social protection programmes across the region.

The new evidence finds that government-run cash transfer programmes are expanding across the continent, with national social protection strategies often including a cash component. While cash transfers in Africa tend to be provided unconditionally, many countries do include programme messaging to encourage school enrolment and periodic health and nutrition checks for children.

For several years there have been concerns that beneficiaries would waste money, however UNICEF and FAO gathered evidence across a 10-year period through the so-called Transfer Project, which clearly indicates that the majority of recipients are utilising cash transfers to better the living standards of their families, especially children.

Gathered evidence has also fostered strong collaboration among policymakers, development partners and researchers and led to improved social cash transfer policies and practices in Africa. The book can be downloaded at

The new book launched today in Johannesburg features a chapter on the evaluation of the pilot social cash transfer programme in Tigray region which started in 2011. Which was also named Best of UNICEF research for 2016

The programme was introduced by the Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs in Tigray region with support from UNICEF in two woredas (districts), Abi Adi and Hintalo Wajirat – with the aim to improve the quality of life for vulnerable children, older persons, and persons with disabilities.

0x5a3612In Ethiopia, the level of children’s deprivation remains high. In comparison with sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopian children face one of the highest multidimensional deprivation rates. Of all the child well‑being dimensions used for comparison – nutrition, health, education, housing, water, sanitation, information and protection against violence – 43 million children in Ethiopia are deprived in at least two of the dimensions. An estimated 17.5 million children live on less than US$1.25 per day.

Ethiopia aims to build a comprehensive and integrated social protection system with the vision for all Ethiopians to enjoy social and economic well-being, security and social justice. The Government is committed to establishing the appropriate system, which will ensure the existing regulations and policies are implemented to address poverty and related vulnerabilities. UNICEF’s social protection programme is providing the required support to make the social protection system a reality.

UNICEF’s social protection programme collaborates with the Government of Ethiopia to establish an integrated social protection system that benefits all Ethiopians, particularly the most vulnerable children and their families. One of the key intervention includes providing support to the operationalization of Community Care Coalitions (CCCs) that identify and provide support in communities to vulnerable persons, including children. These are community-led groups that serve as a support mechanism for the vulnerable populations in the community. CCCs are hybrid organizations with representation from both government and civil society organizations.