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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SNNPInfo: New database system to support policy analysis and decision making in Ethiopia

By Mekiya Feki

SNNPInfo

The newly established South Nations Nationalities Peoples Regional State data base system, SNNPInfo is launched with the presence of the Bureau of Finance and Economic Development Head Ato Haileberhan Zena Mamo,UNICEF SNNPR Head Joyce Gachiri and many other higher officials. The database can be accessed via the BoFED website, www.snnprsbofed.gov.et/SnnpInfo.

SNNPInfo is based on DevInfo, a database system that harnesses the power of advanced information technology to compile and disseminate data on human development. The system has been endorsed royalty-free by the UN Development Assistance Group (DAG) to assist countries in monitoring achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for deployment on both desktops and the web. DevInfo provides methods to organize, store and display data in a uniform way to facilitate data sharing at the country level across government departments, UN agencies and development partners.

According to the Ethiopia’s RBM strategy, a strong database needs to be developed in order to improve the availability and timely dissemination of comprehensive statistical information to monitor and report the national/regional development efforts, to support policy analysis and decision making of government and development partners. Devinfo also contributes to the current national/regional development plan by supporting national authorities in harmonizing and standardizing collation, dissemination and use of data for planning, monitoring and advocacy.

The United Nations Country Team, with the technical leadership of UNICEF, supported the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) to adopt DevInfo as EthioInfo, the Ethiopian in-country customization in 2006.EthioInfo was envisaged as a tool for strengthening the capacity of counterparts in generating and disseminating data for situation and outcome monitoring of national priorities within the PASDEP (2005-2010) & GTP (2011-2015) and United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). EthioInfo is also a tool for enhancing the dissemination and use of statistical information and contributing to knowledge management efforts in Ethiopia.

In the objective of supporting regional governments put in place a common system for electronic data storage, to better manage the monitoring of key socio-economic indicators and support evidence-based development planning and to track progress towards achievement of regional priorities within the framework of National growth and transformation plan and the MDGs, a regionally owned web- based database, SNNPInfo 1.2 is the third regionally devolved Devinfo database customized for SNNP region next to Amhara and Somali. UNICEF is assisting the regions both technically and financially to avail socio economic data on children and women on timely bases for planning, monitoring, evaluation and advocacy.

SNNPInfo provides standard, accessible and timely benchmark data to partners, planners, policy makers, researchers and the general public for monitoring the GTP and other socio-economic indicators of the region. Currently the database contains 3 years (2010-2012 G.C) socio economic core indicators data selected from the regional GTP under 7 sectors; the future plan is to update the database bi-annually. The database supports both standard and user-defined indicators. It includes maps to administrative level for all zones and all woreda level. It also allows regional government and non-government organizations to link the database to all relevant administrative level data to be able to analyze geographic relationships of key indicators.

SNNPInfo provides easy-to-use facilities for querying the database and based on the data retrieved for producing tables, graphs and maps for inclusion in reports and presentations. Furthermore, it helps the user to export/import data to and from different application software’s like Excel, Pdf and other application software programs. SNNPInfo is a powerful advocacy tool. It is expected to contribute to increase awareness on reporting of GTP/ MDG indicators at regional level among a wide range of stakeholders. It also helps facilitate customer service at different levels by providing data on reliable and timely bases.

In South Omo, Education- a gateway for children but a competition for parents

By Zerihun Sewunet

Students attend class at Alkatekach primary school

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

Temesgen Qoshme, 14,  attends a class in Alkatekach primary school14 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

Children, not students, play at Alkatekach Primary SchoolThe 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.