EU Partnership Paves the Way for Better Nutrition for Children and Women in Ethiopia

By Nardos Birru

ADDIS ABABA, September 2016 – Ethiopia has experienced repeated droughts, particularly in the past few years, which have eroded rural livelihoods, causing increased food insecurity and malnutrition among vulnerable communities. The 2015/2016 El Niño-driven drought, for instance, left 9.7 million people in need of emergency food assistance.

In response to recurrent food insecurity, UNICEF has partnered with the European Union (EU) to contribute to building resilience of the most vulnerable groups, which includes children under five, as well as pregnant and lactating women. Resilience, or the ability of a community to withstand, adapt and quickly recover from shocks such as drought, is a cornerstone of the EU’s humanitarian and development assistance.

To this effect, the EU has provided €10 million to UNICEF-assisted programmes as part of its Supporting the Horn of Africa’s Resilience (SHARE) initiative through a project entitled Multi-Sectoral Interventions to Improve Nutrition Security & Resilience. The project is implemented in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the drought-affected woredas (districts) of Amhara, Oromia Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNP) regions, benefiting 285,665 households.

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As part of the community-based nutrition programme, Binti, a Health Extension Worker counsels a mother on best nutrition practices. ©UNICEF/2014/Nesbitt

How does SHARE work?

The project aims for communities to have access to quality nutrition services in their vicinity and a better understanding of the importance of proper infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices.

It covers a wide range of interventions including the promotion of exclusive breast feeding and adequate complementary feeding, vitamin A supplementation and deworming of children, as well as the promotion of hygiene and sanitation.

This is complemented by a series of nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions led by FAO in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture. This component helps build the capacity of women to improve the variation of their diet through livestock and poultry rearing, as well as backyard gardening. It also brings opportunities for women to collaborate as peer support groups to produce nutritionally valuable complementary foods such as cereal mixtures for sale. This stimulates the local economy by creating jobs and empowering women to ensure the healthy growth of their children.

An evidence-based approach

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

One achievement of the project was an initiative to analyze and document the nutrition situation in the country from 2000 to 2015.  The report was launched in March 2016 and highlights critical gaps in terms of existing policies and programmes which need to be addressed urgently to accelerate nutrition results for women and children. Key findings of the situation analysis report include poor water supply and sanitation as high risk factors for child stunting, educating mothers as a key factor for improving nutrition, as well as the need to improve production diversity, nutrition knowledge and women’s empowerment to ensure that diverse and nutritious foods are available and accessible at all times.

The SHARE project also serves as a platform for multiple non-governmental organizations where they can exchange expertise and best practices to improve implementation and follow a harmonized approach in their respective intervention sites. This way, efforts are combined and the impact on the nutrition status of children and women will be maximized.

UNICEF would like to express its gratitude to the EU for the generous financial contribution to UNICEF-assisted programmes and looks forward to strengthening successful collaboration for children and women in Ethiopia. Thanks to EU support, over 225,000 children under five and over 50,000 mothers will have better access to improved nutrition services. This is in line with the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia to realize the Seqota Declaration to make undernutrition, in particular child undernutrition, history in Ethiopia.

Rehabilitation of Borehole Saves Thousands of Lives and Livestock during Drought

By Ayuko Matsuhashi

A signboard on the sight of rehabilitated borehole
A signboard on the sight of the rehabilitated borehole ©UNICEF/2017/Tsegaye

HARSHIM, SOMALI, 19 January 2017 – “For three months, the borehole was not functional and people suffered a lot. There was little rain, so most of the birkas[1] became empty. Additionally, water from birkas is usually contaminated so we suffered from diarrhoea,” Muse Hassan Ali, 45-years-old recalls the time that he and his neighbours did not have access to safe and sustainable water in his town. Birkas are underground water storage systems intended to collect rain water during the rainy season and store for use during the dry season. Birkas can also be used to store water transported by trucks during emergencies.

According to the Harshim woreda (district) administrator, Sied Abraham, this borehole in Harshim town is the only sustainable water source that survived the 2015 El-Niño drought. It was drilled by the Somali Regional Water Bureau (RWB) following a UNICEF groundwater mapping in 2009 to identify potential drilling sites. The depth of the borehole is 535 meters, one of the deepest in the Somali region. After this borehole became non-functional due to electromechanical failure last year, UNICEF, with generous financial contribution from European Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO), supported the RWB to rehabilitate the borehole by replacing a submersible pump, generator and an electric cable.

An immediate rehabilitation of the only sustainable water source in the woreda was crucial not only for Harshim town, but a large part of the region. It typically benefits over 9,000 people in Harshim and neighbouring woredas as well as people who cross the border from Somalia. At the end of 2016, it also served people in far-reaching woredas when drought conditions worsened once again due to the negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). The RWB and partners began providing emergency water trucking, using this borehole as their source. Thus, its well-functioning affects a high number of direct and indirect beneficiaries across the region.

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Roda Ahmed, 35 years old and Rahma Ahmed, 30 years old collecting clean water from the on-site water point ©UNICEF/2017/Tsegaye

Roda Ahmed, 35 years old, is with her five children collecting water. “This is a source of life. Now I can cook and feed my children,” she says. Another woman from Harshim town also with five children, Rahma Ahmed, explains, “Since this borehole has been working, we stopped drinking water from birkas.

In addition to people collecting water near the borehole, the on-site trough draws in many pastoralists and their livestock. It takes more than a day for Farah Aden, 60 years old, to walk to the Harshim borehole with his 10 camels. “We are grateful for this borehole. Water is always a great cost for livestock. The functionality of this borehole has impacted our life a lot.” Indeed, during drought periods such as this one, entire herds may be wiped out, as evidenced by dozens of dead carcasses along the roads across the region.

Pastoralists come to Harshim town from neighbouring woredas and Somalia looking for water
Hundreds of livestock come from all over the Harshim woreda and drink water at the on-site trough ©UNICEF/2017/Tsegaye

As he contemplates this grave issue in his region, Muse pauses before emphasizing, “Still, this is not enough. There is a great pressure on this borehole. The generator is working 22 hours every day.”

UNICEF and partners will continue efforts to support the Government of Ethiopia to increase water coverage and functional water schemes in the Somali region to save the lives of children, their families and their livestock and contribute to a better future for all.

[1] traditional water harvesting pond

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.

Butajira’s ideal health facilities give hope to ending maternal and new-born death in Ethiopia

By Wossen Mulatu

Butajira Hospital and Health Center Media Visit ahead of the EU-ESDE project lauch, 2 April 2014
Dr. Ayenachew Abebe, Medical Director of Butajira Hospital gives briefing about the activities of the hospital in maternal and new-born health. Butajira Hospital and Health Centre Media Visit ahead of the EU-ESDE project launch, 2 April 2014 ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Fasil

Butajira, 2 April 2014: Around fifteen journalists from eleven media houses visited Butajira hospital and health center to witness firsthand the facilities for mothers and new-borns there.

The media visit was organized by the Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF to show the commendable services provided by Butajira hospital and health centre ahead of the high level launch of the ‘Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia’ (ESDE) which was made possible with EU’s generous €40.2 million grant.

New mother Aster Kebede’s face is filled with grace holding her new baby girl already named Etenesh Gobeza. After an hour of delivery, she has immediately started breast-feeding her child sitting comfortably on the hospital bed. It took her a day to come to the hospital from the neighboring Mareko woreda (district) with her mother Fichage Arega. Now, both of them are proudly sitting close to each other admiring the newly born child and grandchild in relief.

“I am highly content with the service provided here at the hospital. The staff were really kind to me and I had a smooth delivery. I am also grateful that such service is offered for free.” said Aster.

In Ethiopia the most critical period of care for maternal and neonatal mortality reduction (skilled birth attendance) has remained stagnant for the past two decades with only 29 per cent of mothers accessing this essential care. In addition, despite the improvements in reducing under 5 mortality rates, neonatal mortality rate has also remained stagnant showing no significant reduction from 39 in the 2005 to 37 in 2011.

Butajira Hospital and Health Centre Media Visit ahead of the EU-ESDE project launch, 2nd April 2014
Aster Kebede, one hour after delivering her baby girl Etenesh Gobeza describes her experience in the hospital to the media. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Fasil

“Both the quality and quantity of services have increased in the hospital due to the commitment and motivation of the hospital management and its staff to prevent any death of mothers and new-borns” said Andualem Mengistu, Manager of the hospital.

According to Andualem, the range of mothers who deliver at the hospital has increased from 10-15 up to 80-90 mothers per week at present. This significant increase is due to the introduction of free service for mothers who deliver at the hospital, increase in the number of midwives on duty programme and early referral system from the Health Center. In addition, the hospital implements Maternal Death Surveillance and Response (MDSR) and uses volunteers from Voluntary Services Organization (VSO) to fill the staffing and skill gap.

“Giving birth should be a time of happiness and celebration for mothers and not a time of sorrow. And newborns are not predestined to die” said Dr. Asheber Gaym, Health Specialist at UNICEF. “We need to make all our efforts to stop the unnecessary death of mothers and new-born in the country by closely working with the Government and partners” he added.

 Ali Abdella, deputy head of the woreda health unit indicates that, their main objective is to create demand so that mothers deliver at a health facility and not at home. The maternal mortality rate in the city used to be 67 deaths per 10,000 in 2010 and now it has gone down to 6 deaths per 10,000 which is a significant achievement.

According to Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) 2011, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world estimated at 676 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births far from the MDG target of 267.

“We are now aiming at quality service and HDF (Home Delivery Free) community.” he stresses.

Translation of paragraphs from stories by journalists that took part in the media visit are posted here: [With a link to the Amharic story]

[Ethiopian Reporter] Saving a mothers life

Hospitals can solve Maternal health and newborn deaths when they have the necessary  equipments and sustainable supply. To equip new and old hospitals with the necessary equipments to sustain the supply, the European Union  has donated 40 million Euros through a project implemented by Ministry of Health and UNICEF. All health sectors will benefit from this three year project Read more.

[Ethiopian News Agency] The hospital has played a role in reducing maternal and newborn deaths

“Many newborn and maternal lives were saved because of this hospital” says Fetiya “The service is for free, so all mothers should come to the hospital and save the life of their children and themselves” Fetiya conveys her message. Read more

[DW- Amharic] Butajira hospital to benefit from new 40 million Euro EU funded project 

UNICEF and Ethiopian Ministry of Health will work together to achieve MDG5, reduce maternal and newborn deaths , by implementing a new 40 million euro project donated by the European Union. Read more

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: High Level Launch of the “Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE)” project

High Level Launch of the “Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE)” project

WHAT: High Level Launch of the “Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE)” project with a €40.2 million grant by the European Union (EU) to Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF to improve maternal and new-born health.

WHO: Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister, Federal Minister of Health

Ambassador Chantal Hebberecht, Head of European Union Delegation,

Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia

WHEN: WEDNESDAY 16 APRIL, from 09:00am- 1:00pm

 WHERE: Radisson Blu Hotel, Addis Ababa

WHY: Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in promoting primary health care service facilities through the Health Extension Programme which led to the reduction of major public health challenges including tuberculosis, malaria and child mortality.  This in turn has contributed greatly to the achievement of MDG 4 of reducing child mortality three years ahead of the 2015 deadline. MDG 6 of halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB are also well on track.

Despite this improved trends, MDG 5 – Improvement of maternal health – remains the only MDG goal that is not on track as we approach 2015 and now it the time to put it on the spotlight.

For interviews or additional information, please contact:

Ahmed Emano, Director, Public Relation and Communication Directorate, Federal Ministry of Health, Tel: +251 115 518031, Mobile: +251 911 388946, email:ahmed_emano[@]yahoo.com

Solomon Kebede, Press and Information Officer, European Union,

Tel.: +251 11 66 12 511, Mobile: +251 911 68 41 01, email: solomon.kebede[@]eeas.europa.eu

Wossen Mulatu, Communication Officer, UNICEF Ethiopia,

Tel.: +251 115 184028, Mobile: +251 911 308483, email: wmulatu[@]unicef.org

Media visit to Butajira to demonstrate partnerships

WHAT: Media visit to health facilities to demonstrate the partnership of the Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF in maternal and new born health- ahead of the high level launch of European Union’s donation of €40 million for Enhancing Skilled Delivery in Ethiopia (ESDE) Project.

WHO: Federal Ministry of Health, European Union, UNICEF

WHEN: WEDNESDAY 2 APRIL, from 7:30am- 4:30pm (Day Trip)

WHERE: Butajira Hospital and Butajira Health Center, SNNPR

WHY: According to EDHS 2011, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world estimated at 676 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births far from the MDG target of 267.

The most critical period of care for maternal and neonatal mortality reduction is skilled birth attendance. However, availability and uptake of this service had remained stagnant until recently.

In addition, despite the improvements in reducing under 5 mortality rates, neonatal mortality rate has also remained stagnant showing no significant reduction from 39 in the 2005 to 37 in 2011. Therefore, maternal and neonate health are now the top priorities in everyone’s agenda.

Accordingly, Butajira Hospital and Health Center have been selected as model facilities that give full maternity service and continuum of care including neonatal care and a coordinated referral system for this visit.

This media visit is organized by Federal Ministry of Health, European Union and UNICEF.

A media pack regarding the sites will be prepared and shared with you . A resource persons will be on board to respond to your queries.

Please confirm your attendance starting from today up to Monday for logistics purpose.

For interviews or additional information, please contact:

Wossen Mulatu, Communication Officer, Media and External Relation Section, UNICEF Ethiopia, Tel: +251 115 184028, Mobile: +251 911 308483, email: wmulatu[at]unicef.org