ADDIS ABABA, 14 April 2014 – The second quarterly media get-together with local and international media concluded with a meaningful discussion on how best the media and UNICEF could work together to advocate for the children and women of Ethiopia. Attended by more than 15 journalists, the discussion focused on how to jointly address issues like child marriage.
More than ever, UNICEF is keen on working closely with the media in pushing development agendas affecting children and women. UNICEF is also eager to learn more from the media on how best it can position itself to create awareness and demonstrate results with the public, developmental partners and donors. This get-together is one of the platforms for both the media and UNICEF.
One of the issues that came out strongly by the media was getting a holistic picture of a programme or intervention. According to suggestions made by the journalists: figures and data should not be presented singularly but rather within a context of trends so they can better understand the progress made as well as anticipate future developments. The UNICEF Ethiopia website presents many different resources including: different publications, research, photos, press releases, speeches, contact information, guidelines and other information useful for the media.
Furthermore, the journalists suggested that government officials along with development partners could attend the UNICEF’s media roundtables to help give them a comprehensive view on different topics affecting women and children.
Journalists also expressed interest in learning about UNICEF programmes in more detail and about how a specific intervention produced results for the Ethiopian community as well as the future generation of the country. For this, journalists have requested media visits so they can witness results at woreda and kebele levels where the programme is being implemented.
The highlight of the get-together was summed up by a question raised by the journalists: what makes UNICEF and its programmes unique and worthy of advocating? And what is UNICEF’s plan for changing its perception of Ethiopian people especially in the rural areas from well known to harmful traditions? These are also questions to which UNICEF’s developmental partners can also contribute.
UNICEF strives to provide basic rights for children including the right to health, nutrition, protection, water, sanitation and access to education. All this is done in support of the Government of Ethiopia.
Since its establishment in 1952, UNICEF Ethiopia has created the capacity to ensure that its development work accelerates at national and community levels with good relations from bilateral donors, development partners and civil society, including the media in Ethiopia. This key position makes UNICEF a unique partner among development agencies and a resourceful agency for the media.
TERGOL, AKOBO WOREDA (GAMBELLA REGION)- Nyabiel Chamjock, a 20-year-old South Sudanese refugee, waits in line at the vaccination post with her nine-month-old daughter in her arms. She joins a long queue of other mothers with young children who are also waiting at the post to receive vaccinations. The growing queue is evidence of an effective community mobilisation campaign carried out in the last few days. In addition to the vaccination post where Nyabiel is waiting, three more posts have been made operational to cope with demand from the rising influx of South Sudan refugees. To ensure that vaccination posts are adequately stocked with supplies – two UNICEF boats regularly deliver vaccines. Nyabiel is one of the thousands of refugees who crossed into Tergol town in January in the Gambella Region of Ethiopia bordering South Sudan. Sadly, Nyabiel lost her husband during the tribal conflict between the Murle and the Lue Nuer tribes more than a year ago. She has recently had to face more tragedy. The eruption of violence in South Sudan, in December 2013, forced Nyabiel to flee into Ethiopia in search of safe refuge. After trekking most of the day on foot, clutching her child and a few selected belongings, she managed to cross the border.
Mass Vaccination Campaign for Refugees and Host Community After waiting 30 minutes in the queue, Nyabiel’s daughter finally receives her required vaccines. She receives an injection against measles and drops to prevent her from contracting polio; she also receives vitamin A supplementation. In addition, her mid-upper arm circumference is measured to check her nutrition status. The chubby little infant looks surprisingly healthy despite the difficult conditions that her family is facing. Before Nyabiel leaves the vaccination post she is given a card confirming her daughter’s immunisation. She is also reminded that it is important to keep the card safe for future reference.
Nyabiel understands the importance of vaccinations for her child. “I know that my child will be protected from diseases after taking the vaccines. It is difficult in this area to keep a child healthy. As it gets dry and hot, children easily fall sick,” she said.
UNICEF supports the provision of vaccination and nutrition supplements to children affected by the conflict in South Sudan
The mass vaccination campaign administered to South Sudanese refugees and members of the host community in Tergol, the capital of Akobo Woreda, is supported by UNICEF in coordination with the Regional Health Bureau. The campaign started at the beginning of January 2014 and more than 95 per cent of children have been targeted for immunisation.
UNICEF has prepositioned emergency vaccine supplies in the Gambella Region to ensure a timely response to the acute emergency needs of those fleeing from the violence in South Sudan and also to the vulnerable members of the host community. The mass vaccination campaign is crucial in preventing outbreaks like measles and polio. In the context of population movement across borders – especially in emergency situations – disease outbreaks can easily occur and prevention measures need to be in place to protect vulnerable mothers and children.
“This vaccination campaign is very important for the health of children both from the host community and refugees,” says Getachew Haile, UNICEF health emergency officer. “It protects the children from contagious viral diseases such as measles and polio,” he adds.
In addition to the provision for vaccines against measles and polio, vitamin A supplementation is also given to children aged between six months and five years. Since the Gambella Region is prone to malaria, a distribution of mosquito nets has also helped to reduce the incidence of malaria morbidity and mortality.
Coordination Work The emergency response to South Sudan refugees in Tergol is being coordinated by the Government’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and UNHCR. UNICEF supports the health activities of ARRA and UNHCR in partnership with the Regional Health Bureau. Adequate planning and functional systems have been put in place to manage human resource and logistic arrangements. In addition, health workers from Gambella town and adjacent areas such as Gniengnang, Wantowa and Tergol have received a one-day orientation.
With the support of the local administration, vaccination posts have been set up in locations that are accessible to the host community and refugees. Community mobilisation work has been an integral part of the vaccination campaign to ensure that community members and refugees are aware of the campaign programme and its importance to the health of mothers and children.
Head of the Akobo Woreda health office, Samuel Yien, acknowledges the impact of UNICEF’s support. He says that the emergency vaccination campaign is going well and that the activities are monitored closely. “We are grateful for the support we received from UNICEF. We are coordinating activities together and so far the campaign is good,” he added.
The Akobo Woreda (district) is the most inaccessible area in the Gambella Region. To reach the woreda capital of Tergol, one has to take an eight-hour boat ride from Buribe town- the last town accessible by vehicle. Accessibility problems make the role of UNICEF boats essential in delivering vaccines and other supplies to the vaccination posts.
Thousands of civilians, mainly women and children, have been affected by the violence that broke out in South Sudan in mid-December 2013. At the beginning of April 2014, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimated that more than 88,000 refugees crossed over the Ethiopian border through six entry points including Tergol, since the conflict began. These people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, including food, water and health services. Mothers and their babies are visibly weak after enduring the long trek to Tergol, while some of the children are malnourished. As the influx of refugees increases and puts food supplies under strain, the nutritional status of newly arrived children deteriorates.
Although some of the refugees in Tergol are being accommodated by the host community, there are still many more staying in makeshift shelters close to the Akobo River.
Nyabiel constructed her small makeshift shelter from sticks and rags to offer some protection from the piercing sun. Her new rickety home is shared with her child, her grandmother and a few scattered bags containing her belongings. She hopes better times await her child. She is keen to keep her daughter healthy and despite the challenges she faces – she is determined to send her to school because “an education will help bring her a better future,” she adds.
The International Women’s Day event at the Faculty of Business and Economics Campus was organized by the UN Communication Group in collaboration with the Addis Ababa University (AAU) Gender Office and attracted high level female panellists from the arts, business, legal, international organisations and civic engagement actors.
The panel discussion helped young women and men from various faculties of Addis Ababa University to have a chance to interact and dialogue with some of the leading women figures in the country. In addition, the event helped to build youth consciousness towards women’s role in development, social welfare and overall human progress, taking the Ethiopian context into perspective.
Panellists shared their experiences and personal stories of struggles and triumphs to break through barriers to achieve the leadership roles in their area of expertise.
Moderating the discussion, Ms Nahu Senay Girma, Founder and Executive Director of the Association of Women in Business (AWIB) Ethiopia, urged the young youth who attended the discussion to ‘actively participate by asking questions and in general, to always grab opportunities to network’ such as the panel discussion.
Ms. Birtukan Gebregzi, Vice President of Enat Bank outlined gaps existing in access to finance for women in Ethiopia, often disadvantaged by factors such as lack of ownership of property and land. She stated that being the first bank to be set up by women in Ethiopia, there has been an encouraging growth in numbers of women clients, standing at ‘65%’ however, compared to their male counterparts, ‘women often take lower loans and hence the increment in female clients is more of numerical than financial gain nature’.
Advising the young students to ‘follow their passion and have strong self-belief’, Ms Desta Hagos, one of Ethiopia’s first female artists, who is planning her 50th exhibition this month, also urged the students to ‘not be afraid to pursue dreams but in a focused manner’.
The regional and continental perspective of women empowerment were shared by Ms Aster Zaoude, former regional director of UNIFEM for West Africa, and founder of the Tsehaye Zaoude Foundation supporting visually impaired female students at AAU. She urged the students to ‘work together and build solidarity’ to address issues faced by girls and women.
Ms Zenaye Tadesse, Managing Director of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association encouraged the students to learn about rights while Ms Chachi Tadesse, performer and activists for street children cautioned the participants against a ‘poverty mentality’ that lets thoughts of scarcity translate to physical barriers.
Ms Engedaye Eshete, Chair of Ethiopian Women Entrepreneurs Association spoke of the opportunities opening up for women entrepreneurs and the linkages across the country that her association was establishing including for the disabled.
Selamawit Adugna, a youth activist and a gender and child protection officer for CHADET, urged the university students not to focus on negative issues and barriers but instead find their passion and look for opportunities. ‘There were days when I was doing a job that wasn’t that exciting and if I hadn’t had passion and vision I would not have gotten out of bed.’
The half day discussion reflected on various issues including the laws and policies enacted in the Ethiopian Constitution to create favourable conditions for women and the challenge remaining when it came to execution; deep rooted traditions and stereotypes that continue to impede progress.
The exciting dialogue between the panellists and the auditorium full of students highlighted building awareness in communities; engaging influential people to spearhead change to address attitude-based setbacks; recognizing that men are important partners in empowering women; and investing in building leadership capacities of women.
By Haile Gebrselassie, Save the Children Child Ambassador, two-time Olympic Champion and four-time World Champion.
Credit: Jiro Ose/Save the Children
Ethiopia, my country, is the cradle of humanity. The first stone tools were found here and Lucy, a 3 million year old skeleton and the first Homo sapiens, was found in the village of Hadar, on the southern edge of the Afar triangle.
Our history is ancient and continuous. We are fiercely proud of the fact that we are the only African nation never to have been colonised. But like every nation our history is chequered and we have suffered.
In 1983, when I was ten years old, the first flames of hunger were flickering throughout Ethiopia. It was that year my mother died due to birth related complications. In those days, in my village, this was not very unusual.
My mother died following birth complications. The women of the village tried to help, but when I think back I realise that none of them really knew what they were doing.
In so many ways, we have made progress in saving the lives of mothers and their newborns since then. Today, the number of children dying before their fifth birthday has been halved since 1990.
The number of women who die in childbirth has declined by almost a third – that’s millions of kids who get to grow up with a mother and millions more getting a chance at life.
What we have achieved so far must be celebrated. The actions of our governments over the last fifteen years have brought about the greatest leap in children’s wellbeing survival in history. This change has been brought about by bold political leadership at the highest levels.
But even today, half of all women giving birth in sub-Saharan Africa give birth without any skilled help. Globally, 2 million women also give birth completely alone. A direct result of this lack of skilled health workers, as Save the Children has shown in a new report today, a million newborn babies die on their first day of life. A single baby’s death is one death too many.
The good news is that we know what needs to change: ensuring every birth is supported by quality trained health care workers who have the expertise to help premature babies survive, deal with birth complications and prevent newborn infections can, with some wider steps, help prevent as many as two-thirds of these newborn deaths.
Every country in the world must ensure that all mothers-to-be have access to a midwife with life-saving medicines and equipment.
Africa is finally a continent on the rise – and children are the key to our continuing success. I want them to grow up to be the doctors, lawyers, teachers and even athletes that they are meant to be. The race for survival is a marathon, not a sprint. We are in this for the long haul. Like long distance running, this will take endurance, commitment and conviction. We have seen the incredible results when we put our minds to it.
The prize for these children is much greater than an Olympic medal. They get a fair chance at life, regardless of how poor their parents are, where they live or whether they are a boy or a girl. This is a race that we can win.
Largest emergency appeal on record, almost 40 per cent for Syria and region
GENEVA/ADDIS ABABA, 21 February 2014 – UNICEF appealed today for almost US$2.2 billion to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance in 2014 to 85 million people, including 59 million children, who face conflict, natural disasters and other complex emergencies in 50countries.
“I have just returned from South Sudan, the latest large-scale conflict to disrupt the lives of millions of innocent children. Over 400,000 children and their families have been displaced by the conflict, and over 3.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The rainy season is coming and we need to preposition supplies and reinforce essential services, for which we need urgent funding to prevent a catastrophe,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes.
“The children of South Sudan join millions of others affected by conflict in the Central African Republic and Syria. But while today’s headlines focus on these complex, under-funded crises, many other desperate situations also require immediate funding and urgent humanitarian assistance. These include Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia and Yemen, and other countries reflected in UNICEF’s appeal,” Chaiban said.
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2014 appeal highlights the daily challenges faced by children in humanitarian crises, the support required to help them survive and thrive, and the results that are possible even in the most difficult circumstances.
For Syria and the sub-region, UNICEF is appealing for US$835 million to deliver life-saving assistance including immunization, water and sanitation, education, and protection; and to support the social cohesion and peace-building skills needed to build a more sustainable future.
“Children are always the most vulnerable group in emergencies, facing a high risk of violence, exploitation, disease and neglect,” Chaiban said. “But when support is made available, we can change the lives of children for the better. With its partners, UNICEF is working to address a diverse range of humanitarian situations including malnutrition in the Sahel; lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation in Yemen; cholera in Haiti; increased attacks on children in Afghanistan; and drought in Angola.”
In Ethiopia, to support children affected by humanitarian crisis and accelerate efforts to break the vicious cycle of drought, hunger and poverty, UNICEF is appealing for US$31,126,000 million by working closely with Government and partners. The fund is allotted to treat 238,700 children aged 6 to 59 months affected by severe acute malnutrition, provide water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene for 1,200,000 people and offer formal and informal education to 90,000 children. This year’s appeal will build on the past gains made towards strengthening the resilience of communities in Ethiopia and save the lives of children. The 40 per cent decrease in requirements from 2013 reflects a projected improvement in the food security and nutritional situation in 2014.
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
14 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
The 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.
Addis Ababa, 28 November 2013- To celebrate Universal Children’s Day – the anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child -UNICEF Ethiopia participated in the 8th Ethiopian International Film festival, to promulgate children’s rights to the public using public announcements, documentaries and photos as a channel.
Throughout the event UNICEF is showing public service announcement on different topics affecting children’s rights to the public. International and local celebrities like the world famous Argentinian football player Leo Messi, actor Liam Neeson, singers Angelique Kidjo, Katy Perry, Lenny Kravits, Aster Aweke, The Ethiopia Wallia team and the young advocator for children Hanna Godefa were seen joining UNICEF and taking up the issues of violence against children, barriers of education and HIV/AIDS.
For its premier UNICEF presented yesterday a short documentary: Overcoming Barriers: Famia and Rasso’s Journey in Pursuit of Education at the Italian Cultural Institute. It is a story of two adolescent girls in rural kebele of Djudjuma, near Dire Dawa who faced forced marriage and other economic and social obstacles to continue their studies. “This ground breaking documentary has given us a perspective from the adolescents themselves, their true stories and their realities that they go through in life,” said Mr Ibrahim Sesay, Child Protection Specialist of UNICEF Ethiopia. “It’s a call to joint action for all stakeholders – government, media, religious groups, community based organizations, development partners and children – to strengthen the current collaborative partnerships to end child marriage.” The documentary is based on the Situation Analysis study on Investment in Boys and Girls conducted by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Children and Youth Affairs and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in 2012.
The premier was attended by the media, film industry community and teachers who discussed on the role of different stakeholders in protecting children and enabling them achieve their dreams after the screening. “The protection of children from all forms of violence is a fundamental right and we have to ensure that all children, everywhere and at all times are not victim of child marriage and such platforms should provoke conversations that will enhance change in behaviour starting at the family and community levels,” Mr Sesay added. “We need to join forces to get a zero sum game for the abandonment of harmful traditional practices that marginalise as well as violate children’s right, especially the girl child.”
The 8th Ethiopian film festival is being held from 25 November to 2 December 2013 in Addis Ababa. The festival is screening both national and international film producers in a week long programme encompassing International Organizations, embassies, NGOs, civil societies and other interest groups to premier their productions and draw a wide range of discussions on issues relevant to their field.