First Ever Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Day Observed in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 21st August 2018: As Ethiopia enters the third year of rolling out a comprehensive civil and vital events registration system, which includes birth registration, the government and its partners gathered on 18th August to commemorate the first ever civil registration and vital statics day.

Beyond the usual fanfare that accompanies these events, the day was an opportune moment to reflect on the progress the country has made since the comprehensive vital events registration system was launched in 2016.

In his opening remarks, the President of Ethiopia Dr. Mulatu Teshome said the vital events registration system was important as it enabled citizens to demand their constitutional rights and obtain comprehensive social and economic services. It also enabled the government to design laws, policies and strategies with concrete evidence and ensure their enforcement.

Commemorated under the theme universal, permanent and continuous civil registration and vital statistics system for good governance and better lives, the event was held to raise public awareness about the importance of registering vital life events such as births, marriages, and deaths.

“As we embark on the third year, we can see that more than 18 per cent of children under one year of age are now registered with civil authorities, up from only 3 per cent in 2016,” said UNICEF Acting Representative Shalini Bahuguna.

Birth Registration Programme in Dodota woreda/district of Arsi zone, Oromia region
“Gemechu has a birth certificate” Gemechu’s parents, Bedaso Rago and his mother Ayati Kumbi, Awash Bishola Kebele, Oromia region. ©UNICEF Ethiopia /2017/Martha Tadesse

Ethiopia did not have a comprehensive vital events and civil registration system before 2016, as a result of which only three per cent of children under the age of five had their births registered with civil authorities and two in three of these children had a birth certificate. However, following the enactment of the Council of Ministers regulation to establish the Federal Vital Events Registration Agency (FVERA) and the national identity proclamation in 2012, a system for coordinating and supporting the registration of vital events registration was launched in July 2016.

Since then, 19,351 registration offices have been established across the country out of which 17,042 are providing vital events registration and certification services. Within this period, 965,457 births, 208,637 marriages, 8,089 divorces, 178,559 deaths, and 565 adoptions have been registered.

Key supporters of this programme who have channelled their support through UNICEF include the European Union via the Netherlands embassy (€4m) and Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (€1.5m). Other partners providing their support directly to FVERA include the World Bank (USD 15 million), UNHCR (computers, printers and laptops), Economic Commission for Africa and Plan International (technical support and capacity building), World Vision (media advocacy) and UNFPA and WHO (costing of the strategic plan).

Birth registration rates can be accelerated if bottlenecks such as the requirement that both mother and father should be present at the time the birth certificate is being issued are removed and if the first copy of the certificate is issued without a fee. Despite Ethiopia’s progress in expanding the system to cover 88 per cent of the country and improving rates of registration, most of the population, particularly in socially and economically disadvantaged areas, have neither heard about vital events registration nor understood its relevance. Thus, creating more awareness about the system and generating demand for its services remains a key focus of the programme.

 

Heads of WFP and UNICEF visit Somali Region of Ethiopia after days of civil unrest

ADDIS ABABA – The heads of the United Nations World Food Programme and UNICEF in Ethiopia have made a joint visit to Somali Region of Ethiopia to see firsthand how people affected by recent violence and civil unrest are being assisted.

WFP Country Director, Steven Were Omamo and UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia, Gillian Mellsop visited the regional capital Jijiga on Monday 13 August, where they assessed what further support was needed and emphasized the importance of strong partnerships in improving the situation.

A humanitarian coordination committee comprising both government and humanitarian partners has been established to identify food distribution points in the city, after thousands of people were forced from their homes amid the disturbances.

“The people here are facing enormous challenges, and we have been doing all we can to support them through food distributions over the past few days,” said Omamo. “It is encouraging to see how the situation is stabilizing through the efforts of the Government and the support of humanitarian partners, and federal and regional authorities.”

“Children and women still face enormous challenges in accessing basic services such as water and health,” said Mellsop. “Working with the regional government and our partners, we are doing our best to ensure that support continues to reach them even as we restore currently-suspended programmes for other vulnerable populations.”

UNICEF is providing high-energy biscuits to children and women, buckets, blankets, soap and water-treatment chemicals. Before the conflict, UNICEF was supporting the treatment of approximately 132,000 children and 110,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women for moderate malnutrition and 8,500 children for severe acute malnutrition. The support is expected to resume once the situation improves.

WFP is providing rice, pulses, oil, corn soya blend, and the supplement Plumpy’Sup to 52,000 people seeking shelter in temporary accommodation. It hopes to resume its regular operations in the coming days as the security situation continues to improve.

WFP usually provides food assistance to some 2 million food-insecure people in the Somali Region. Another 311,000 drought-affected people receive complementary WFP food assistance under the government-led Productive Safety Net Programme.

Ethiopia launches an integrated measles, vitamin A, and deworming campaign for displaced people in Gedeo Zone

Addis Ababa, 7 August 2018 – The Ethiopian Ministry of Health has launched a preventive measles vaccination campaign to immunize 928 000 children aged 6 months to 15 years among the internally displaced and host communities in Gedeo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region. The campaign will also involve administering vitamin A to children aged six months to five years and deworming of children aged two to five years. Plans are underway for a similar campaign targeting 516 000 children in West Guji Zone of Oromia Region. 

There are close to one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Gedeo and West Guji zones sheltering in schools, unfinished buildings, and tents.  The make-shift camps are crowded with limited access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation, posing an increased risk for the spread of communicable diseases. Children and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are at high risk of malnutrition.

“Conducting vaccination campaigns for the displaced and host communities is key to preventing an outbreak of infectious diseases such as measles. Malnutrition also needs to be addressed, which is why this campaign is integrated with vitamin A distribution and deworming for young children,” Dr Akpaka Kalu, WHO Representative in Ethiopia, said.  “WHO teams are on the ground in Gedeo working with government staff for technical, operational and logistical support to the campaign and to the overall health emergency response.”

UNICEF is procuring 750 000 doses of the measles vaccine while the balance of 900 000 doses is being bought by the Ministry of Health.

“In an emergency of this nature, it is often the children who endure the greatest suffering,” said UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Ms. Gillian Mellsop. “In these very difficult times for the children of Gedeo and West Guji zones, it is critical that we are present, together with the government and other humanitarian partners, to provide vaccination and other much-needed lifesaving support to children and women.”

With little access to food and safe water, children and women are facing a rapidly deteriorating nutrition situation. UNICEF has provided malnutrition treatment supplies, deployed trucks to ferry safe water in West Guji, and distributed soap, jerry cans, water tanks, and other non-food items. Technical experts are on the ground to support the immunization campaign, monitor the screening and treatment of children with malnutrition, and mitigate violence against women and children. 

The World Health Organization is providing technical and operational support including microplanning for the campaign, training of supervisors and facilitators, coordination, logistics, and monitoring and supervision of the quality of campaign.

As part of the response to the humanitarian crisis, WHO has deployed four international and more than 30 national public health experts to the affected zones to provide technical support on the ground.  The organization has also donated medicines and medical supplies enough to provide emergency treatment to more than 200 000 people. 

More than US$ 500,000 has been allocated from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to WHO and UNICEF towards supporting the preventive measles campaign led by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia through its regional health bureaus in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples and Oromia regions.  The campaign in Oromia Region is expected to commence on 10 August 2018.

Ethiopia invests US$ 31.4 million on innovative next-generation solar refrigerators for vaccines

Addis Ababa, 18 July 2018 –The Federal Ministry of Health has procured over 6,000 Solar Direct Drive (SDD) refrigerators for health posts and woreda (district) health offices in areas without reliable electricity. The devices will store vaccines at health facilities which will help keep millions of children alive and healthy. The Federal Ministry of Health fully funded the procurement of these solar refrigerators at a total cost of US$ 31.4 million. The procurement was supported by UNICEF given its global expertise in handling such large-scale purchases in a short time.

Prequalified by WHO, the SDD refrigerators are expected to expand immunization coverage in Ethiopia through significantly reducing the time and resources required for vaccine transportation. The devices will ensure the availability and safety of vaccines in remote areas where the country’s most vulnerable children live.

Solar Direct Drive (SDD) refrigerators Programme Launch
Enter H.E Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health addressing media during the Solar Direct Drive (SDD) refrigerators programme launch. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mulugeta Ayene

The procurement follows a unique bundled procurement services approach which includes warranty, delivery of spare parts, and training of supply chain and immunization focal persons both at federal and regional levels. In addition, a project management team led by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF will regularly review the progress and efficiency of operations.

At the ceremony, H.E Dr Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health, said, “The Government of Ethiopia underlines its commitment to equip all health posts, health centres and hospitals with optimal cold chain equipment to ensure quality and improve access of the immunization programme.”

“The Solar Direct Drive devices we are being rolled out are the successful outcome of the strong partnership built between the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and other health partners to ensure that no child is left behind on immunization,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia.

Solar Direct Drive (SDD) refrigerators Programme Launch
Ms Gillian Mellsop visits a display during Solar Direct Drive (SDD) refrigerators programme launch. The SDD refrigerators are expected to expand immunization coverage in Ethiopia through significantly reducing the time and resources required for vaccine transportation. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Mulugeta Ayene

Immunization is one of the most cost-effective health investments. By protecting children against vaccine preventable diseases, immunization plays a central role in ending preventable child deaths. Despite significant improvements over the past decades, in Ethiopia, only 38.5 per cent of children between 12 and 23 months receive all basic vaccinations. There are also great disparities in terms of access to vaccination services between rural and urban areas.

One of the key strategies to improve access and utilization of immunization services is to improve the cold chain system, especially at health post level. Therefore, the Ministry of Health invested in solar powered refrigerators which are more cost effective and sustainable than refrigerators using gas or kerosene, in remote areas where there is no electricity.

Ethiopia’s Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP) has set ambitious goals to improve equity, coverage and utilization of essential health services at all levels by 2020. Achieving these goals will require significant investments, including in innovative technology.

While it remains important to achieve high coverage rates of essential health services, such as immunization of mothers and children, continued efforts are required to provide quality health services to all citizens regardless of differences in socio-economic status or geographic location.

Ethiopia inaugurates model water supply and waste management project

26 May 2018, WUKRO, Tigray region – Today marks another major milestone in the Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Ethiopia with the inauguration of a model water supply, sanitation and waste management system in Wukro Town, Tigray Region. Part of the One WASH Plus programme, the system integrates innovative and resilient solutions to provide WASH services to 73,000 people, including 35,000 children under the age of 15, residing in the town and its satellite villages.

Attending the inauguration were His Excellency Dr. Negash Wagasho, State Minister of Water Irrigation and Electricity, Dr Christian Rogg, Head of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Ethiopia, Ms. Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia, officials from the Tigray Regional Government and Wukro Town administration officials.

“Ethiopia’s rapid urbanization and population growth has resulted in increased water stress,” said Dr. Negash Wagasho. “The development of adequate, resilient, sustainable and inclusive WASH services is therefore a must to ensure sustainable development of rapidly growing towns. Thus, what we are seeing today is what can be achieved when we put our concerted efforts together.”

“The UK is the largest bilateral donor in the Ethiopian WASH sector and we are proud to fund the excellent work taking place in Wukro, which is supplying vital water and sanitation services to the town and its surroundings,” said Dr Rogg. “I hope the progress in Wukro can serve as an example to be emulated on a national scale.”

UNICEF Representative Gillian Mellsop said the project was one of the greatest achievements of the One WaSH Plus programme and stands as a testament to the tremendous good that can be achieved when everyone pools their resources together towards one common purpose.

“Investments of this nature, both in Wukro and elsewhere in Ethiopia, are not just improving access to essential services but are changing entire lives,” said Dr. Samuel Godfrey, Chief of WASH at UNICEF. “Women and girls no longer have to walk long distances and spend many hours fetching water. Girls can go to school and attend to their schoolwork while mothers have enough time to spend with their children and engage in other productive activities. For communities, a safe and clean environment means fewer disease outbreaks.”

The Wukro project involved expanding the capacity of the town’s existing system to supply water to the town and five satellite villages, integrating it with a “full chain” system for managing liquid sludge and waste (from containment to recycling), improving water and sanitation in institutions such as schools and health facilities, and establishing a business model for managing the facility comprising the local administration and private operators. The low-cost technology deployed in treating domestic liquid waste in selected social housing developments in the town was sourced through a partnership with the Government of Brazil.

The One WASH Plus programme, fully funded by DFID, is implemented by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, regional sector bureaus, and the Water Resource Development Fund. The programme also works with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction, and respective Sector Regional Bureaus, as well as town administrations and town water supply and sewerage utilities.

The programme, which began in 2013, will benefit 250,000 people in eight small towns and surrounding rural villages in Amhara, Oromia, Somali and Tigray regions with a total investment of some US $36 million by targeting communities living in towns and in peri-urban areas. Models such as the one in Wukro, some large and others medium sized, are now a key component of the One WaSH programme across more than 1,000 towns in the four regions in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s rapid urbanization and urban development has resulted in increased water stress and high potential for disease outbreaks. The development of adequate, resilient, sustainable and inclusive WASH services is therefore a must to ensure sustainable development of the rapidly growing towns to meet the targets set in the SDGs.

Linking One WASH National Programme and Water Resources Management: UNICEF Ethiopia’s Leverage in the Sector

By Kaleab Getaneh and Jorge Alvarez-Sala

There is a high interdependence between Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services and Water Resources Management. A sustainable supply of good quality drinking water highly depends on how properly the water sources are managed. Similarly, if WASH services provision is not sustainably managed it will have a huge negative impact on the water resource.

The UNICEF and USAID supported project to strengthen the Water Sector Working Group (WSWG) Secretariat started in July 2015 with the aim of establishing a well-functioning platform for the water sector consisting of the WASH and Water Resources Management (WRM) subgroups that contribute to the sustainable development and management of the water resources in the country.

The project has been supporting the reactivation of the WRM Sub Group and the organization of the first-ever Joint Technical Review (JTR) for the WRM sub-sector. The main purpose of the JTR is to bring various stakeholders together and ensure a sustainable coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise the economic and social welfare of the population. This is the basis for the ongoing and future water sector interventions in general and One WASH National Programme in particular.

Developing climate resilient sustainable WASH services under the umbrella of One WASH National Programme require looking into the bigger water resources management picture, including the protection of water sources and the overall water governance issues. To this end, the reactivation and capacitation of the WRM subgroup and the launching of the JTR is significantly contributing to the development of a clear and common agenda for the water resources sector in Ethiopia.

The WRM sub-group has been able to bring together three concerned Ministries: Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity (MoWIE); Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources (MALR); and Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and key development partners (DPs), academia and civil society organizations (CSOs).

The priorities established by the WRM sub-group include: 1.Irrigation for growth; 2.Legislation of groundwater use; 3. Conflict resolution; 4. Communication/Management Information System; 5. Institutional and Human Capacity; 6. Water quality; and 7. Water Charges/Tariff and Scheme Sustainability. Following the identification of the priority areas, six WRM technical working groups have been established to further pinpoint key bottlenecks and gaps.

Opening speech by H. E. Ato Kebede Gerba, the state Minister of MoWIE. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2018/Jorge Alvarez-Sala

On the 19th April 2018, the WRM JTR kick-off meeting was successfully held by involving more than 85 participants from academic institutions, CSOs, development partners, basin authorities, concerned federal ministries, and regional bureaus of water, environment and agriculture. The workshop was attended by H.E. Ato Kebede Gerba, the state Minister of MoWIE and H.E Ato Kare Chewicha, the state Minister of MoEFCC. It has laid the foundation by bringing the three ministries (MoWIE, MoEFCC and MoANR) together to talk about water resources management in the country.

 

Currently, the six working groups are actively organizing a field mission to review the state of WRM in three selected river basins (Awash River Basin, Rift Valley Lakes Basin and Abay River Basin) and come up with high impact implementable actions. The findings of the field mission will feed into the upcoming Multi Stakeholders Forum, which will bring both WASH and WRM subsectors together for the first time.

The whole process of JTR and MSF is expected to culminate in the preparation of a National WRM Programme document, which is currently being developed with technical and financial support from UNICEF.

UNICEF’s support to the Water Sector Working Group (WSWG), and its sub-groups is possible thanks to the generosity and support of USAID. The JTR kick-off meeting was also financially supported by JICA and the Italian Cooperation Agency.

Sweden contributes US$ 3 million to UNICEF’s 2018 humanitarian appeal for children in Ethiopia

30 April 2018, Addis Ababa: The Government of Sweden has provided US$3 million to UNICEF Ethiopia’s 2018 Humanitarian Action for Children. The funds will be used to meet the needs of internally displaced populations in the Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia.

“We are grateful to the Government of Sweden for this contribution, which confirms Sweden’s continued commitment to supporting populations affected by humanitarian emergencies,” said UNICEF Representative Gillian Mellsop. “This is the first such significant contribution to our funding appeal in 2018. It will enable us to alleviate the hardships currently faced by populations living in IDP sites where access to basic services remains low and where conditions, especially for children, are simply unbearable.”

Current estimates place the number of persons internally displaced by climatic and conflict factors at around 1.7 million. The displaced are settled in 916 sites across the country.

The contribution from Sweden will enable UNICEF to provide critical and much-needed water and sanitation, nutrition, and health services to displaced populations in the two regions. Other services will include education and child protection.

Specifically, Sweden’s support will go towards:

  • Trucking of water to IDP sites and construction or expansion of water supply systems;
  • Diarrhoea treatment, vaccination of children against measles, and distribution of mosquito nets;
  • Treatment of children with acute malnutrition and provision of high protein biscuits to prevent malnutrition in children and pregnant and lactating women;
  • Provision of emergency education, including early childhood development;
  • Reunification of separated and unaccompanied children with their families and preventing and mitigating risks faced by children, especially girls.

While the Government continues to prioritize the return and resettlement of the IDPs, thousands of displaced people are still in need of urgent life-saving assistance. UNICEF’s US$ 112 million humanitarian appeal for children targets 3.1 million people with support, out of which 1.5 million are children. Presently, the appeal has a shortfall of US$ 86 million, with nutrition, health, and education having the most significant gaps.