Germany announces 10 million euro support for the drought response in Ethiopia

 

Germany announces 10 million euro support for the drought response in Ethiopia
Mr Thomas Silberhorn, Deputy Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) announces a 10-million-euro contribution to save the lives and protect livelihoods of vulnerable households affected by the El Niño-driven drought in Ethiopia at the UNICEF Warehouse in Gerji, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Tsegaye

21 April, 2016:  Mr Thomas Silberhorn, the German Deputy Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development announced a contribution of 10 million euro to save lives and protect the livelihoods of vulnerable households affected by the El Niño-driven drought in Ethiopia.

Due to the drought, 10.2 million people, 6 million of them children, are in need of food assistance, while 5.8 million people require access to clean drinking water and hygiene and sanitation facilities throughout 2016.

In 2015, the Government of Germany contributed 10 million euro to UNICEF for the drought emergency response in the areas of Health, Nutrition, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.

During a visit to a UNICEF warehouse in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr Silberhorn said, “We would like to commend the Federal Government of Ethiopia for the well-coordinated response to the drought emergency. The Government’s timely call for early action has paved the way for a coordinated approach implemented by the Government and the international partners.” The Deputy Minister added, “I am pleased to announce that Germany’s cooperation with UNICEF will continue and that the German Government will provide additional funding amounting to 10 million euro to continue the drought emergency support, bringing the support to UNICEF’s work in the drought-affected areas to a total of 20 million euro.”

With this new funding from the German Government, an estimated 1 million people in drought-affected areas will benefit from improved health services, 240,000 people will have access to water supply, and 36,000 children with severe acute malnutrition will be provided with therapeutic food.

UNICEF, the Nutrition cluster lead, provides supplies for the management of severe acute malnutrition and supports the treatment of malnourished children through the community-based management of acute malnutrition, along with training, quality assurance and coordination with other partners.

UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Ms. Gillian Mellsop, thanked the German Government for its generous support to UNICEF’s multi-sectoral drought response, saying, “This timely support will, among other things, enable the country’s strong primary health care system to continue identifying and treating malnourished children. This emergency nutrition intervention also ensures that the drought will not result in lifelong developmental consequences for a generation of children and will not reverse Ethiopia’s hard-earned development progress.”

 

KOICA and UNICEF’s partnership for the health of Ethiopia’s Mothers and Children

KOICA Country Director, Doh Young Ah and UNICEF representative to Ethiopia, Gillian Mellsop
KOICA Country Director, Doh Young Ah and UNICEF representative to Ethiopia, Gillian Mellsop sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together in a Maternal and Child Health (MCH) care project. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Sewunet

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) announces US$ 9 million support to UNICEF for “Community Based Newborn Care” today in the UNICEF Ethiopia office. This financial support will be implemented in five zones of SNNP, Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regions of Ethiopia.

The agreement was signed by KOICA Country Director, Doh Young Ah and UNICEF representative to Ethiopia, Gillian Mellsop.

KOICA’s support aims to strengthen Ethiopian government’s efforts to improve maternal and newborn health in hard to reach areas building mainly on the Health Extension Program and the Primary Health Care platform. Over 150,000 pregnant women and their newborns will benefit from this generous support per year, reaching over 300,000 mother-baby pairs in the coming years.

In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, Regional Health Bureaus, the Ethiopia Midwifery and Paediatric associations, NGOs, donors and academic institutions, the programme aims to scale up maternal and newborn care in 5 zones covering a total population of 4 million between 2015 and 2018. This programme will contribute to the national scaling up of evidence based high impact interventions to improve maternal and newborn health at community and health facilities levels.

The combination of innovative, evidence-based strategies and the government’s long legacy of leadership on maternal, newborn and child survival is yielding impressive results. Ethiopia achieved MDG 4 three years ahead of schedule by cutting under-five mortality from 205 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 68 per 1,000 in 2012. Ethiopia’s progress illustrates that countries can achieve dramatic declines in child mortality, despite constrained resources.

See photos here 

Ethiopia: US$1.4 billion urgently required to meet food and non-food needs for 10.2 million people

Ethiopia: Government and humanitarian partners launch the Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) for 2016

ETHA_2014_00103.jpg
Fartun Hassan, 25, mother of 4, makes her way home in Yahas-Jamal Keble in Somali region of Ethiopia 11 February 2014 ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ose

Addis Ababa, 11 December 2015: The Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners today launched the joint Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) for 2016. The appeal seeks $1.4 billion to provide 10.2 million people with emergency food assistance; 5.8 million people with water, health and sanitation; and more than 2.1 million people with nutrition including 400,000 severely malnourished children. The HRD also identifies funding requirements for education, agriculture and livelihoods, emergency shelter and relief items, displacement, and targeted assistance for women and children.

The impact of this global El Niño climactic event followed failed spring rains and led to erratic summer rains in Ethiopia, and contributed to one of the worst droughts in decades. Resultant spikes in food insecurity, malnutrition, water shortages, and health concerns surged well beyond global emergency thresholds and compelled a massive increase in emergency assistance by the Government and humanitarian partners. The needs presented in the HRD for 2016 were established through a robust, Government-led interagency assessment that resulted in a strategic overview and objectives, sector implementation plans, and detailed funding requirements.

The impact of the El Niño-driven disaster will be most acutely felt in the months ahead. “The Government has, and continues to provide exemplary leadership for humanitarian responses to the emergency,” said Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia.

“The Government has responded immediately, put forth its own resources, and led calls on the international community to scale-up response and funding. The humanitarian system and donor partners are moving quickly to step up, which is very encouraging,” Ms Eziakonwa-Onochie further noted.

“The highest priority remains food – some $1.1 billion is urgently required for emergency food assistance,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF’s Representative to Ethiopia. “We are confident donors will quickly provide this support, as this can prevent needless suffering and far more costly specialized nutrition interventions if we act now. In addition to emergency food aid, we must ensure nutrition, water and health are effectively resourced to meet urgent gaps as well.”

Mr Amadou Allahoury Diallo, FAO’s Representative to Ethiopia, stated, “We must capitalize upon the opportunity to utilize available water to support small-holder farmers for short cycle crops to restore livelihoods and reduce food importation.”

“In many areas its simply didn’t rain” said Mr Paul Handley, OCHA’s Head of Office. “This, in addition to affecting livelihoods, dried up potable water sources and affects nutrition and health concerns. Addressing this is a critical priority of the HRD for 2016.”

The Ethiopia Humanitarian Country Team further calls on development partners and the Development Assistance Group to continue to work closely together to safeguard development gains and to identify durable solutions to cyclical humanitarian needs.

Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams Key to Behavioural Change in Somali Region

By Matt Sarson

DHANDAMANE, SOMALI REGION, ETHIOPIA, 23rd October 2013 – As we drive through the Valley of Marvels between JigJiga, the Somali Regional capital, and Babille, which straddles the neighbouring Oromia Region, the emerald glow of vibrant plant life sits in stark contrast to the florescent copper shimmer of the soil below. The road is smooth tarmac and carves a winding path through the sparse moonscape.

This western tip of what is classified as one of Ethiopia’s four developing regional states is currently blessed with more precipitation than its eastern extremities, but drought, regular disease outbreaks, flooding and limited access to healthcare have blighted the majority of the region for a number of years.

Adawe Warsame is a Health & Nutrition Officer with UNICEF.Adawe Warsame is a Health & Nutrition Officer with UNICEF. Having grown up in the nearby city of Dire Dawa and a Somali himself, he is well aware of the historic complications of the region.

“The issues the people face in the Somali Region are multi-layered,” he explains. “In one part of the region there is a flood, which is followed by a disease outbreak; in another, severe drought. This has a huge impact on both the health and nutrition of the people here, as well as the ability of the government to provide adequate services.

“Most regions are underdeveloped in terms of health facilities, human resources and education. It is difficult to provide even the most basic of services in many areas.”

Accessing Hard to Reach Areas

The next morning we continue along the same road through Babille towards Dire Dawa, entering the Oromia Region, before leaving the asphalt and turning back on ourselves towards the Koro kebele – a more direct access road does not currently exist.

Our driver first has to remove branches from the road, which have been placed there by the neighbouring Oromia village. After a brief exchange, in which they question why the support is being provided solely to the Somali people, they help to clear the path for us. With regional governmental offices only responsible for their own kebeles, this is a common occurrence. By working closely with the Ethiopian government, UNICEF are able to mitigate such issues and access areas that others cannot.

“UNICEF is a little privileged in terms of movement compared to other NGOs,” Adawe assures us. ” As we work closely with the Regional Health Bureau, the vehicles have special plate numbers and the staff are also from the government side.”

The MHNT helps to train Health Extension Workers (HEWs) through a 16 package programme, which includes disease prevention and control, family health services, hygiene and environmental sanitation, health education and Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs). They also provide immunisations, deliver medicine and supplies, support Traditional Birthing Assistants (TBAs) and treat severe malnutrition. UNICEF currently supports 24 MHNTs in the Somali region. There used to be others operated by different NGOs, but due to financing restrictions these have now ceased to be operational.

As we arrive in the village, we are met by Mohamed Almur Musu, the kebele leader, who informs us that he is responsible for protecting both the people and the animals in his community. Adawe briefly explains the purpose of our visit before we begin to make our way through the village.

“We are on the border between the Somali and Oromia regions, and so have been a little neglected,” Mohamed explains at the entrance to one of the village houses. “Nowadays, we have better support and a new health facility, which makes us feel more secure. The problems we face here are many, but slowly things are improving.”

The Plight of Harmful Traditional Practices

Mohamed Almur Musu, Babile,Koro kebele lider father of 8
Mohamed Almur Musu, Babile, Koro kebele leader father of 8. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Tsegaye

One of the biggest and often most sensitive issues in the region is HTPs, such as early childhood marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). According to the 2011 Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS) report, the region has the third highest rate of FGM (in 0-14 year olds) in Ethiopia (31%), after Afar (60%) and Amhara (47%).

“Prior to the government intervention, religious leaders were advising us not to practice these things,” Mohamed informs us, a nervous smile directed at those around him indicating that the issue is still one he is not altogether comfortable with. “The change wasn’t really monitored though and people were still doing it.”

Beyond the obvious initial pain of the procedure, the long term physiological, sexual and psychological effects of FGM are well documented. The consequences can even include death as a result of shock, haemorrhage or septicaemia. Long-term complications include loss of libido, genital malformation, delayed menarche, chronic pelvic complications and recurrent urinary retention and infection. Girls who have undergone FGM or also prone to various complications during birth and are more at risk of contracting HIV.

“We now have a very strong community stance against it. I can confidently say that it is no longer a part of our lives here,” Mohamed exclaims proudly.

At the first Girl Summit – held on July 22, 2014, in London, and joint hosted by UNICEF – Ethiopia’s deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Demeke Mekonnen announced a package to eradicate both FGM and early childhood marriage by 2025. This is the most recent step in a decade’s long struggle, but statistics are now starting to indicate that real progress is being made and this new target is a realistic one.

Women at the Centre of the Progress

Marayma Abdiwahab,Womens group coordinator in Koro Kebele, mother of one 12-year old daughter.
Marayma Abdiwahab, Womens group coordinator in Koro Kebele, mother of one 12-year old daughter ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Tsegaye

The house we are borrowing shade from is that of Marayama Abdiwahad, a confidant woman who plays a central role in the kebele’s women’s group. She has a 13-year-old daughter, Bisharo, and is clearly driven by a desire to improve the quality of life for all children in her community.

“Progress began with just a few simple steps,” she says, directing us to look around at the village as she talks. “The mobile team have taught us how to collect rubbish, to gather it somewhere and to burn it. Before, we didn’t wash our children, and our dishes and utensils were not clean, now we are also doing this.”

Although, this seems straightforward, the impact it has had on the community has been huge,

“Our children always used to get diarrhoea,” she continues. “Now, they are healthy and energetic. If anyone does get sick, we also now have the necessary facilities here to treat them.”

In addition to the hygiene aspect of the 16 package programme provided to the community, Marayama also discusses the role the women’s group has played in eradicating FGM.

“We used to perform FGM, but after receiving the 16 package we have committed ourselves to not performing it,” she says proudly. “We have discussed together the health problems it brings and have vowed to eradicate it from our community.”

When questioned about her own daughter, Marayama is defiant.

Health Extension worker, Abdulallh Abiib, 22, discuss hygine prctices with a women's group in Koro kebele.
Health Extension worker, Abdulallh Abiib, 22, discuss hygine prctices with a women’s group in Koro kebele. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Tsegaye

“If you yourselves are not ashamed, I will happily show you my daughter,” she insists, with a knowing smile. “I will never allow anyone to perform FGM on her.”

Abdullah Abiid, 22, is the kebele’s only HEW. He has been working in his role for a year now. When we meet him, he is discussing HTPs with the kebele’s women’s group.

“FGM no longer happens here,” he informs us proudly. “There is still early marriage, but now the girls are going to school and learning about this too.” At times, the progress has not been easy, but Abdullah is committed to achieving his objectives and improving life for all in his community.

“Some listen and accept what I am saying straight away, others laugh at me,” he says. “When they laugh, I don’t stop what I am doing because I know they will see what the other women are doing and follow their lead.

“They used to be ashamed to use a latrine even. When I explained that their own hygiene and the cleanliness of the home are important for maintaining the health of their children, they started to make the change.”

Part of a Bigger Picture

The progress in the level of hygiene and the eradication of HTPs is part of a bigger picture, whereby both the health and quality of life of all those in the community is improving – especially for girls.

The training and provision of clean delivery kits to TBAs has had a profound impact on the quality of birthing services, and this has been supported further by Tetanus Toxoid injections, which massively reduces the neo-natal tetanus mortality rate. The presence of the Health Post (HP) and MHNT for emergency situations also enables pregnant women to have more confidence should complications occur.

In the neighbouring Helobiyo Kebele, Ruman Ibrahim Osman, 28, is a prime example of the impact this has had. We are invited into her home where she is sat holding her 1-week old baby girl, Farhiyo. She had previously lost two children during complicated deliveries.

Ruman Ibrahim Osman with her one-week old Farhio Ahemed. Babile, Halobiye kebele“During the delivery of my previous child, the baby was in a difficult position and then got stuck,” she bravely informs us. “I was suffering for around 24 hours. The community tried to help, but finally, after a prolonged issue, the baby died.”

She had also lost another child in similar circumstances just 12 months earlier. With Farhiyo, however, the delivery was much more straight forward and she received support throughout her pregnancy.

“Initially, I met with the MHNT when they came to our village,” she recalls. “They told the pregnant mothers to come and gave us advice, vaccinations and linked us to the birth assistant. Then I got support from the birth assistant and gave birth with her help here at home.”

She is also now receiving continued support from the TBA and HEW.

” I have been told to breastfeed within the first few hours and I don’t give any additional food or water,” she says confidently. ” The mobile team are vaccinating us and our children, and treating diseases like malaria. The situation here is now much better.”

Although there is still some way to go to completely eradicate HTPs from the Somali region and to improve the health and nutrition of all, positive progress is clearly being made. For those working with UNICEF in the region, this is something that they are proud to be a part of.

“As someone with an educational background in public health, it brings me great pleasure to see these poorer communities now learning such important lessons,” Adawe exclaims gleefully back at UNICEF’s Somali regional office in JigJiga. “The people here do not deliberately want to hurt or damage their children.

“Driven by the services of our mobile teams, we are empowering them to protect both themselves and their future.”

Polio transmission deemed interrupted in Ethiopia

Polio transmission deemed interrupted in Ethiopia by 4th polio external assessment; final decision awaited by Horn of Africa Final Assessment on 17 June.

Assessment recommendations include sustaining polio achievements for “polio legacy” in Ethiopia.

By Shalini Rozario 

12 June 2015

Health Extension Worker administers Polio Vaccination
National Polio Vaccination Campaign. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2005/Heger

Addis Ababa. From 8-12 June 2015, the 4th Polio External Assessment took place in Addis Ababa, to review the progress to date of the polio outbreak response, and determine the quality and status of the outbreak in the country. The assessment team was led by WHO and included members from CDC, Core Group, the Gates Foundation, UNICEF and others. The assessment team looked in detail at key elements of the polio programme including surveillance, campaign quality, communication, vaccine supply and logistics and other factors contributing to the interruption of the polio virus transmission.

4th external polio assessment debriefing
His Excellency Dr. Kebede Worku, State Minister to the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia along with Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia; and Gillian Mellsop, Country Representative to UNICEF Ethiopia during the 4th external polio assessment debriefing on 12 June 2015. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Rozario

On Friday afternoon, 12 June, the external assessment team debriefed His Excellency Dr. Kebede Worku, State Minister to the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia along with Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia; Gillian Mellsop, Country Representative to UNICEF Ethiopia along with key polio partners, and reviewed findings of the week-long assessment.

The overall conclusion was that the assessment believes that transmission in Ethiopia has been interrupted and called for sustained government support to ensure sustained gains.

Since the onset of the Horn of Africa (HOA) polio outbreak in May 2013, Ethiopia responded intensively. Following confirmation of cases in Somalia and Kenya, the first confirmed WPV case in Ethiopia was in August 2013 in the Somali Region resulting in a total of 10 WPV type-1 (wild poliovirus type 1) cases in the Doolo Zone of Somali Region. The last WPV case was confirmed in January 2014 — nearly 17 months ago – an indicator of interruption of transmission due to the intensive vaccination response, which includes 14 vaccination campaigns reaching children in all corners of the country with OPV (oral polio vaccine), including 4 rounds of National Immunization Days (NIDs), targeting between 12 to over 14 million children. All campaigns were supported with intensified communication and social mobilization activities, and engaged partnerships for solid community awareness, knowledge and acceptance of OPV.

H.E. Dr. Kebede responded enthusiastically to the assessment outcome, and stated, “The outbreak was closed due to the frontline teams and practioners on the ground.” He expressed support and said to value the recommendations to strengthen routine immunization, surveillance and quality SIAs (campaigns), which will benefit children and the health system in general. H.E. Dr. Kebede expressed gratitude to the leadership of the regional governments, particularly in the Somali Region. He appreciated efforts of community leaders, including religious leaders of the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, who played a key role in the outbreak response. Dr. Kebede thanked Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou, for his commitment, and for his frequent visits to the outbreak epicenter, Doolo Zone of the Somali Region. He also welcomed Gillian Mellsop, as the new Country Representative to UNICEF Ethiopia and appreciated both partners for their contributions along with the other Polio Eradication Initiative partners such as CDC, Core Group, the Gates Foundation and Rotary International.

4th external polio assessment debriefing
Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia; Gillian Mellsop, Country Representative to UNICEF Ethiopia and Macoura Oulare, Chief of Health, UNICEF Ethiopia catch up during the 4th external polio assessment debriefing on 12 June 2015. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Rozario

Dr. Pierre Mpele-Kilebou and Gillian Mellsop, congratulated the Ministry of Health on their achievements, expressed their support for the polio programme, and acknowledged the importance of drawing on the successes and lessons learned for the “polio legacy” in Ethiopia.

Final recommendations will be delivered to the Horn of Africa countries, government representatives and partners on 17 June 2015 in Nairobi at the Horn of Africa Outbreak Final Assessment Debriefing.

Access to education for 1 million children improved through 10-year UNICEF and ING partnership

10 YEAR UNICEF – ING PARTNERSHIPNEW YORK/ADDIS ABABA, 21 April 2015–UNICEF and ING, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation, today announced the renewal of a decade-long partnership that to date has provided access to better quality education for more than 1 million of the world’s hardest-to-reach children.

During the past 10 years, ING has inspired its employees and customers worldwide to raise funds for UNICEF, helping to improve children’s access to education in remote communities in Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Nepal and Zambia.

In Ethiopia, 458 Alternative Basic Education Centres for pastoralist children have been built, benefiting over 50,000 children. Andover 3,400 facilitators (teachers from the community) have been trained to apply a ‘childfriendly’ teaching method.

“ING shares UNICEF’s deep commitment to improving the lives and well-being of children and young people around the world,” said Koos Timmermans, Member and Vice-Chairman, Management Board Banking, ING. “We are united by a conviction that education is a fundamental building block for the development of children and their societies. We are proud that with the support from our customers and employees, the ING–UNICEF partnership has positively affected the lives of 1 million disadvantaged children.”

The partnership has trained 17,000 teachers and has been instrumental in the development of new ways to reach marginalised children. In 2006, ING was one of the first investors to support Alternative Basic Education Centres, providing much needed educational opportunities for pastoralist children in Ethiopia. The strategy has now been fully integrated into the country’s education system. In Nepal, ING was also the first investor to support the Adolescent Development and Participation programme in 2013, helping to equip young people with social and financial skills.

The second phase of the partnership will shift its focus to adolescents. While the world has made remarkable progress for millions of children over the past decades – reducing child mortality, increasing the number of children enrolled in primary school, and expanding access to health care services – far too many of the 1.2 billion adolescents worldwide have been left behind.

“UNICEF is grateful to ING – and especially to its employees and customers – for their commitment to improving children’s lives and futures,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We are excited that our renewed partnership with ING will focus on reaching adolescents and helping them develop the knowledge and skills they need to build brighter futures for themselves, their families, and the societies in which they live.”

For the next three years, the renewed partnership aims to reach 335,000 adolescents in six countries – Indonesia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Nepal, the Philippines and Zambia –enabling them to develop into socially and financially empowered adults and full members of society.

10 YEAR UNICEF – ING PARTNERSHIPBehind these figures are the individual stories of teachers and children like Mohamed, a young Ethiopian man who herded goats until he was 11 years old and was given the opportunity to be one of the first children to enrol in an ING-supported Alternative Basic Education Centre. “The school building was made of sticks and we shared one book between five students and were sitting on rocks,” said Mohamed, who is now 19 years old, remembering his first experiences at school.“So much has changed since then! Right now, the children in my community have their classes in a real school building; they have tables and chairs and every child has a textbook. Most importantly, parents really understand now why children should go to school.”

In 2005, UNICEF faced a challenge in providing basic education for pastoralist children in Ethiopia. Young pastoralists, who make up a significant part of Ethiopia’s population of children, grow up in areas far from primary schools. But with ING’s support, UNICEF and its partners initiated a new concept called Alternative Basic Education Centres (ABEC) to provide education for these children – an approach that turned out to be the first step towards a new, successful education model.

These alternative learning centres introduced education into the pastoralist lifestyle so that the school calendar and the time schedule were adapted to the daily chores of the children who take care of the livestock. This approach turned out to be so successful that, over the years, 458 centres have been built in Afar, Somali, SNNPR and Oromia regions of Ethiopia.

Furthermore, the government raised the standard of these alternative schools to meet that of regular primary schools. As a result, many of the schools have now been formalised or will be formalised in the future; teachers receive professional training and pastoralist children can continue their education in formal secondary school.

Donors appreciative of the joint UNFPA/UNICEF programme to stop FGM/C in Afar Region

By Wossen Mulatu

Trust fund donors visit of the UNFPA/UNICEF joint programme acceleration of change to eliminate FGM/C
Visit by Donors to the Social mobilisation interventions to end FGM/C in Wasero Village, Sabure Kebele, Afar Region. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Mulatu

26 MARCH, AFAR REGION, ETHIOPIA – Donors to the UNFPA/UNICEF programme to stop female genital mutilation and cutting in Ethiopia’s Afar region carried out a visit in March to see its progress.

Accompanied by staff from UNFPA and UNICEF, the donors from the governments of Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg visited programmes run by implementing partner agencies, including the Afar Bureau of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (BoWCYA), Afar Pastoralist Development Association (ADPA) and the Rohi Weddu Pastoralist Development Association.

Work under the programme is being delivered in two phases – the first ran from 2008-2013 and saw interventions launched in six woredas (districts) out of a total of 32 in the Afar region. The second phase began last year and will run until 2017, covering three more woredas and including advocacy engagement at a federal level.

The implementing partners have responsibility for different aspects of the programme – the regional BoWCYA is responsible for the programme’s overall co-ordination and legal implementation, APDA focuses on reproductive health issues and Rohi Weddu aims to deliver wider community mobilisation and facilitating community dialogue.

In the last five years, the partners, with technical and financial support from UNFPA and UNICEF, have achieved impressive results.

The first phase of the project is running in 74 kebeles (sub-districts) of the six woredas of Zone Three of the region, with a total population of more than 400,000 people. These are: Awash Fentale, Gelaelo (Burimodaytu), Amibara, Gewane, Argoba, and Dulesa.

According to Zahra Humed Ali, Head of the Bureau of Women, Children and Youth Affairs, Afar is the first Ethiopian region to issue a proclamation on the abandonment of FGM/C.

Trust fund donors visit of the UNFPA/UNICEF joint programme acceleration of change to eliminate FGM/C
Group photo of adolescent girls from Aasero village, Sabure Kebele, Awash District in Afar region representing the new generation of uncut girls in the Region. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Mulatu

“Community conversations facilitated by influential leaders in the community including kebele administrators, women’s associations and Traditional Birth Attendants is making a significant impact on the road to the abandonment of FGM/C in the region and religious leaders are leading the movement,” she said.

Eleven woredas in Afar have already abandoned FGM/C, with six doing so with support from the UNFPA/UNICEF joint programme.

According to Valerie Browning, Programme Coordinator of Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), the majority of women of reproductive age in Afar have undergone FGM/C and as a result commonly experience urinary retention, kidney disease and problems with menstruation and sexual intercourse.

The APDA is working to identify and support women affected by FGM/C through its work in the region.

The Barbra May Maternity Hospital in Mille is one health institution in the Afar Region to include FGM/C intervention as part of its maternal and health child services. The hospital opened in 2011 and is run by the APDA, treating many conditions related to FGM/C, like opening up infibulations, as well as more routine obstetric procedures.

Asmelash Woldemaraim, Executive Director of Rohi Weddu, says the UNFPA/UNICEF programme has dramatically raised awareness on FGM/C.

This has brought about a rapid decline in the prevalence of the practice, with 39 per cent of women affected in 2013, compared with 90 per cent in 2008.

Trust fund donors visit of the UNFPA/UNICEF joint programme acceleration of change to eliminate FGM/C
Momina Gida, 17 years old in Aasero village, Sabure Kebele, Awash District in Afar region represents the new generation of uncut girls in the Region. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Mulatu

Recognising the influential nature of the Afar social and clan structures, the UNFPA/UNICEF joint programme focuses on changing the attitudes of community leaders by creating a core group of advocates for change.

The group consists of senior regional government officials, religious and clan leaders, elders and FGM/C practitioners. The aim is to change the attitudes of people within this group, prompting community dialogue to bring about a consensus within the wider community.

Data collected at the sub-district and regional level show that more than 7,000 girls in the six districts of Zone Three of the Afar region have remained uncut since the start of the programme.

Following the visit, the donors acknowledged the commitment of the Afar regional government, as well as the two UN agencies running the joint programme, to bringing about a significant reduction of the rate of FGM/C in the region.

They agreed on the need to increase funding, as resources are stretched, even though the programme is delivering results and highlighted the importance of reaching less accessible areas.

This is a particular challenge, given the pastoralist nature of the community, with 90 per cent of livelihoods being reliant on subsistence livestock production. The region’s harsh climate is another challenge.

Finally, the donors expressed their belief that breaking down taboos and educating the community about the problems posed by FGM/C will bring about positive change – the hope is that once the majority can be convinced that this practice is wrong, the message will spread among more communities and end it for good.