Essence of vital events registration: Ethiopia established Vital Events Registration Agency

The Ethiopian Herald

Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, makes a speech at the National Conference on Vital Events Registration
Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, makes a speech at the National Conference on Vital Events Registration

Pursuant to a proclamation on the registration of vital events and national identity card (Proclamation No. 760/2004), the government has decided to establish Vital Events Registration Agency by the decision of Council of Ministers, Regulation No. 278/2005, which is accountable to the Ministry of Justice. The proclamation indicates that establishing a system of registration of vital events plays a key role in planning political, social and economic developments, in providing various social and economic services to citizens and in making the justice administration expedient and effective.

To this effect, available sources show that registration and records of vital events are intended primarily as legal documents of direct interest to the person concerned. From those official records, evidentiary proof of the occurrence of a vital event and its characteristics can be made by a civil registrar or any other designated authority. Each certificate constitutes testimony of the particulars set forth therein in all courts of law and public offices. There is a wide variety of circumstances, legal and administrative, for which a certified copy of the legal record of live birth, fetal death, death, marriage and divorce is usually required. Fetal deaths, however, are mostly recorded for statistical purposes rather than for legal purposes.

United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative Dr. Peter Salama said that civil registration is not just about identity cards- it is rather a pre- requisite for measuring equity monitoring trends and evaluating impact and outcomes of broader development programmes, such as the MDGs and the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).

“While some progress has been made, there is still an enormous gap in registering vital events especially birth registration. According to the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey of 2005, birth registration of children under the age of five was around 7 per cent, meaning that 9 out of 10 Ethiopian children remain unregistered,” said Dr. Peter.

As this crucial task is embarked on, Dr. Peter emphasized on three key points. First, birth registered is every child’s right. As stipulated in Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of Child: “every child has the right to be registered at birth without discrimination.” Birth registration, was recognized as central to ensuring children’s right— rights to name, identity and nationality. Ethiopia was among the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). However, with no proof of age or identity, Ethiopian children and young people may be seen as attractive ‘commodities’ and subject to child trafficking across the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf. Nor will they have even the minimal protection that a birth certificate provides against early marriage, child labour or detention and prosecution as an adult. Read more

Also read full speech by Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia at the event.

International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction 2013

By Demissew Bizuwork

International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction was marked in Ethiopia with the theme “including persons with disabilities in disaster reduction” on the 11 October 2013. Commemorating the day an event which was organized by the Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS), the Ministry of Agriculture and partner organizations, discussed relevant policy and legal frameworks, approaches, as well as good practices related with disaster and disability.

Sylvie Chamois welcomes a visitor to the UNICEF stand at International Disaster Risk Reduction Day Ethiopia
Sylvie Chamois welcomes a visitor to the UNICEF stand at International Disaster Risk Reduction Day Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Sewunet

As a side event was an exhibition in which UNICEF and other partners participated. UNICEF took the opportunity to showcase the role of its nutrition programme in reducing disaster risks. UNICEF promotes and protects the nutritional status of children and mothers in emergency prone country such as Ethiopia to ensure better resilience and faster recovery.

International Day of the Girl Child

By Demissew Bizuwork

dayofthegirlGirls, boys, teachers, education officials, parents and members of partner organizations all marched on the streets of Addis Ababa to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child on Friday October 11, 2013. Accompanied by the rhythm of the Police marching band, the mass walk all the way from the Bureau of Education, to the Janmeda youth centre. The streets also came alive with colourful banners bearing messages such as “getting girls in school is yours, mine and everyone’s responsibility”  “let’s Retain girls in school” “Innovating for Girls Education”

Following the walk, officials from the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, UNESCO and other partners reviewed progress on girls’ education in Ethiopia. The panel highlighted the challenges on girls’ education and proposed suggestions for improving access, retention and achievement of girls through primary, secondary and tertiary education. Furthermore, some strategies for retaining girls in school such as peer support programmes, additional teacher support as well as linkages among girls at primary with those in secondary, among secondary with those in tertiary were shared.

Related articles
UNICEF celebrates International Day of the Girl Child

የአምስት ዓመቱ የእድገትና ትራንስፎርሜሽን እቅድ – ጤና [Five years Growth and Transformation Programme – Health]

In a recent interview with Ethiopian Television (ETV) UNICEF Ethiopia’s Health Specialist, Dr. Tedbabe Degefie said “There are 38 thousand Health extension workers in 15 thousand health posts around Ethiopia. They play a main role in achieving the countries goals by delivering service house to house and creating trust in the community.”

The programme which focused on Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Programme (GTP) also talks to Dr. Peter Salama – UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, who said “Ethiopia is one of the first countries to fully incorporate and integrate the global millennium development goals (MDGs) to its Growth and Transformation Programme, putting the country in a good position to fulfill the MDGs.”

See below the health part extracted from the full five years Growth and Transformation Programme in Amharic

To see the full programme on Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency – ERTA website click here.

Story on Ethiopia meets MDG 4 by cutting Under 5 mortality By Two-Thirds Since 1990.

Hold your breath… Water and Sanitation is about to go big in Ethiopia

Ethiopia needs more than 18,000 water professionals and technicians to implement the world’s largest sector-wide WASH Programme. Learn why you should be one of them!

By Dr. Samuel Godfrey, UNICEF Ethiopia Chief of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)


Wubalem Asmamaw, 17, makes the short 20min journey to fetch water for her family in Machakel district, Amhara region, northern Ethiopia (©UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Ose)

Meet Wubalem Asmamaw, a 17-year old girl who lives in Machakel district of the Amhara region in Northern Ethiopia. Five years ago and like millions of girls her age or younger up and down the country, Wubalem used to spend more than three hours a day travelling to and from a nearby dirty river just to fetch water for her family. She would often run late or even miss her classes at the nearby elementary school not only to spend the day looking for water, but also to stay home and care for ill parents, siblings, and/or neighbors.  Her parents, who make a living from subsistence farming in the lush teff and wheat growing fields of West Gojjam, spent their hard-earned income on buying medicine.

For those years at least, Wubalem lived a life of fear. Fear that the lush, but open fields on her way back from the river might unleash a thug who might abduct and force her to marriage at the age of 12. Fear that she would be thrown out of school for skipping classes. Fear that one of her parents or siblings might fall sick again from diarrhea and miss many days of work in the field. And most important of all, Wubalem feared that her dreams of finishing high school and then studying to become a doctor might end prematurely.

When I met Wubalem two months ago at a recently-rehabilitated water point in her village, there was no fear in her eyes. Thanks to a water point that was built by the support from the European Union and UNICEF, Wubalem’s commute to fetch water has been reduced to just 20 minutes.  Instead of pessimistic predictions about her future, Wubalem talks about the new things she learned in her biology classes and why no one in her family or her neighborhood has fallen ill from diarrhea in the last three years. Why? The water they now drink every day is not only safe, but is enough to wash hands before and after meals and keep the family toilet clean at all times. After scoring top grades in her class early this year, Wubalem is also already looking forward to the last two years of high school not with fear, but with the passion of a teenager who loves school!

Sounds like a fairytale, right? This story is what we in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector work for and use to remind ourselves why we do what we do. Our job is not just about constructing and/or helping rehabilitate urban and rural water and sanitation facilities in every village and district, but also see millions of empowered young boys and girls ready to continue Ethiopia’s hopes of becoming a middle income country by 2030. We envision a country of many Wubalems- healthy, educated, and economically-empowered citizens ready to lift millions of their compatriots out of poverty.

This week, we take our current reality closer to our vision when Ethiopia launches the world’s largest Water and Sanitation (WASH) Sector Wide Approach (SWAP). Termed ONE WASH and supported by UNICEF, the international donor lead for WASH in Ethiopia; this huge undertaking terms ONE WASH National Programme (OWNP) brings together four national ministries- Water and Energy (MWE), Health (FMOH), Education (MOE), and Finance and Economic Development (MoFed) – in an innovative approach designed to meet Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation (GTP) and universal access ambitions.

But what does this really mean?

Like UNICEF, there are many development partners and stakeholders which work in WASH. From the smallest Civil Society Organization (CSO) which collects enough money to build a small hand pump to the largest multilateral and development partners like UNICEF, the World Bank, DFID, African Development Bank (ADB), Government of Finland, JICA, and the European Union which fund million-birr community water schemes, every organization works in WASH, but in their own different ways. They have different priorities, different monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, different reporting requirements, and varying amounts of funding and financial reporting systems.

With ONE WASH, this will be no more. As the experience of countries like Mozambique where I previous worked as Chief of WASH for UNICEF suggests, combining efforts accelerates efforts to meet both GTP and the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG 7) which is providing universal access to water and sanitation. It also helps reduce duplication of funding, efforts, and priorities. With ONE WASH, all stakeholders work together to produce one plan, all contributing to a consolidated WASH account at federal, and producing one report.

And it does not stop there!

Successfully implementing ONE WASH requires over 18,000 additional skilled personnel of all types across the country. More contractors, water technicians, drilling companies, and higher education programmes with larger intake are all needed in the next 5-10 years.  Based on my experience in other countries, I see the WASH sector personnel in Ethiopia becoming a bit like what is currently happening to X-ray technicians at the moment- there simply aren’t enough of them! And those who currently work as X-ray technicians are increasingly demanding higher wages and flexible working hours so that they can take on additional part-time work.

Ethiopia needs more contractors with well-trained and sufficient workforce of technicians, engineers, and office staff to meet its lofty water and sanitation goals. It needs more students in universities tackling subjects like Water Engineering, Water Technology, Sanitation Engineering, and others. Given the demand and forseeable shortage of professionals, I see these fields competing and perhaps winning the battle to attract talented students straight of high school. And this is not just about installing water schemes in remote parts of the country. This affects everyone from your small town favorite plumber to the ambitious school or hotel that uses solar energy to power its water pump.

Rest assured, the WASH sector is the place to be in Ethiopia for the next 5-10 years.