Sweden responds to El Niño-driven drought in Ethiopia

The Government avails US$ 5.7 million to UNICEF’s drought response activities

Inauguration of new UNICEF warehouse
New cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) arrives at a UNICEF warehouse

ADDIS ABABA, 22 June 2016 -The Government of Sweden contributes US$ 5.7 million to UNICEF to save children’s lives and protect children affected by El Niño-driven drought in Ethiopia. This is the single largest crisis contribution of Sweden to UNICEF globally this year. In addition to the grant provided through UNICEF Ethiopia, Sweden has provided US$25 million to the drought response in Ethiopia since September 2015.

The Swedish support comes at a critical time when Ethiopia is currently facing the worst drought in decades leaving 10.2 million people, including 6 million children, in need of emergency assistance. It also created critical water shortages in Somali, Afar, parts of SNNP, eastern Oromia, Amhara and Tigray regions.  Poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, resulting from water shortage, are also contributing to an increase in disease outbreaks. 

In addition, the number of severely malnourished children who need therapeutic feeding treatment continues to increase. UNICEF, together with the Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners, is stepping up efforts to address the needs of 458,000 children under five with Severe Acute Malnutrition and 2.5 million children, pregnant and lactating women with Moderate Acute Malnutrition.[1]

“Sweden has been a strong humanitarian and development partner to Ethiopia over the years. We are very committed to support the country in the struggle to combat and prevent the effects of the worst drought Ethiopia has seen in over 50 years,” said H.E. Jan Sadek, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia. “Sweden is determined to continue to work for a deeper integration between humanitarian relief and long term development objectives. The partners in Ethiopia have come quite far in this integration but more needs to be done. We believe that in this regard, UNICEF, which has a mandate in both ‘spheres’, is playing a key role.”

Together with other donors, Sweden’s support enabled UNICEF to make the largest global purchase of Therapeutic Food for children in drought-stricken Ethiopia. With this new funding, UNICEF will work towards improving the capacity of health extension workers on Severe Acute Malnutrition management.

In addition, new stabilization centres will be established in existing health centres to cater to the increasing number of children with severe acute malnutrition.  The contribution will also strengthen Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams which provide lifesaving primary health care, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation promotion services in hard hit drought areas of the Afar and Somali regions. Furthermore, water will be provided to primary schools for drinking as well as for routine handwashing in the Oromia Region.

“UNICEF appreciates the Government of Sweden’s generous contribution of life saving interventions for children and their families whose lives have been affected by the El-Niño driven drought emergency,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. “UNICEF, together with the Government of Ethiopia and partners, continues to play an important role in scaling up its interventions in terms of nutrition, health, water sanitation and hygiene, child protection and education to mitigate the worst impact of this crisis.”

 

Ethiopia Showcases Best Practices in Drought Response at WHS Side Event

Hawa Girash a mother of two accompanied by her children walks in to temporary emergency rub hall tent
Hawa Girash a mother of two accompanied by her children walks in to temporary emergency rub hall tent ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Tesfaye

(Addis Ababa and Istanbul 23 May 2016): Mr. Demeke Mekonnen Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister today chairs a side event at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) showcasing the country’s best practices in the drought response.

Participating key note speakers at the WHS side event “Bridging the divide: humanitarian and development collaboration in Ethiopia”, include Deputy Emergency Response Coordinator and Assistant Secretary General of OCHA Ms. Kyung-Wha Kang, WFP Executive Director, Ms. Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr. Anthony Lake, and Senior Adviser for Resilience, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), Mr. Claus Sorensen. 

Failed spring short rains and erratic long summer rains caused by El-Niño in 2015 led to serious spikes in food insecurity, malnutrition, water and fodder shortages, and health outbreaks across the country. Relief food recipients climbed from 2.9 million in January 2015 to 10.2 million in 2016. The WHS side event takes stock of the response so far, including the leadership of the Government of Ethiopia and the role the country’s development gains in the last decade, which humanitarian partners celebrate as best practices that have prevented a large scale famine. 

“In the past, droughts of this magnitude killed many, and caused profound suffering. The impact of this drought in 2016 has been different. Our preparation and priorities over the past decade has meant that our collective response prevented famine,” says Deputy Prime Minister Mekonnen. “We have been focusing on pro-poor policies, introducing disaster response management into all aspects of governance, strengthening government ministries, introducing satellite imagery and evidence-based analysis, and intensifying support to the agriculture sector.”

As a result of the 2002-2003 drought, the Government of Ethiopia and its partners began a process of addressing recurrent challenges posed, including the Disaster Risk Management Policy, the Productive Safety Nets Program (PSNP), efforts to improve watershed management, agriculture programs aimed to help farmers and pastoralists mitigate climate change impacts, and ‘pro-poor’ policies across multiple ministries to address recurrent need. The second generation of the Government’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) focuses on quantity and quality of basic services provision, aimed at the lowest quintile of the population. This is seminal towards ensuring development solutions and resilience is Government-owned and delivers upon residual development needs, which continue to bear humanitarian characteristics to date. 

“The Ethiopian response model is evidence that resilient development saves lives and protects development gains,” says Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa Onochie, Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia. “Ethiopia’s strong health system, with over 38,000 Health Extension Workers on Government pay-roll and a ‘Health Development Army’ of over 3 million volunteer women from rural Ethiopia, provides the backbone of the current drought response.”

Reuniting Ethiopia’s children with their families after migration horrors

By Paul Schemm

UNICEF- IOM partnership on assisted voluntary returning children from Ethiopia
Ahmad, 17, demonstrates how traffickers in Yemen held him for ransom. A joint project between UNICEF, the International Organization of Migration and the Ethiopian Government, the transit centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia reunites migrant children with their families. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mulugeta Ayene

ADDIS ABABA, March 31, 2016 – As Ahmad* was being chased through the Yemeni desert by the motorcycle-riding human traffickers that had tortured and beat him in their camp for months, he thought he would never see his home village in southern Ethiopia again.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it home,” recalled the young 17-year-old with an expressive face and wide eyes as he described his five months of attempted migration to Saudi Arabia that resulted in him getting ransomed by traffickers twice and ended in a harrowing midnight escape when he rolled off the truck containing bodies of fellow migrants he had been sent to help bury.

Ahmad is now safe in a transit centre in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, just a few short days away from the trip back home and being reunited with his family as part of a collaboration between UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration and the Ethiopian Government.

The lure of migration

UNICEF- IOM partnership on assisted voluntary returning children from Ethiopia
Children play ping pong in the courtyard of the transit centre where they await their return to their families after failed attempts to migrate. A joint project between UNICEF, the International Organization of Migration and the Ethiopian Government, the transit centre reunites migrant children with their families. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mulugeta Ayene

Thousands of Ethiopians leave the country searching for opportunities, with many heading for oil-rich Saudi Arabia via the Red Sea port of Djibouti and through Yemen, which is currently deeply embroiled in a civil war.

Many are preyed upon by human traffickers who often leave them stranded, or worse hold them for ransom. Many who make the trip are minors left stranded far from home.

UNICEF and the IOM have begun bringing these children back to Ethiopia and housing them for a week in the Addis Ababa transit centre while their families are contacted.

“Most of them have travelled through very harsh circumstances, some were robbed and they all went long days without food,” said centre director Mohammed Farah who just last week sent almost hundred children back to their homes. “Most of them are traumatized.”

The children are given new clothes, showers and counselling to try to overcome some of the experiences they have been through.

Many are at first uncommunicative but with time and group therapy they begin to interact with their peers, said Farah.

The centre helped bring home 598 children in 2015 and already in the first few months of 2016 it has sent another 157 to their families, including 10 girls. Families receive a 1,000 birr (US$50) resettling aid as well.

Most of the children helped by the programme are between 15 and 17 years-old but there are cases of even younger children caught up in the lure to immigrate.

The IOM-UNICEF partnership to bring these children back to their families has been singled out by the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional office as a success story.

Coping with the trauma

UNICEF- IOM partnership on assisted voluntary returning children from Ethiopia
Kabir, 16, looks out the window of the transit center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he awaits the journey back to his family that he hasn’t seen for the past five months. The joint project between UNICEF, the International Organization of Migration and the Ethiopian Government reunites children migrants with their families. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Mulugeta Ayene

Sitting in the clean, white-washed activities room, Zerihun*, 17, talked about being ransomed by traffickers in Yemen and beaten repeatedly when his family couldn’t provide the money.

“They beat me until I became really sick and then they thought I would die so they left me outside,” he recalled, admitting that he still has trouble sleeping from the trauma. In the end, he survived the terrible experience and was able to run off into the desert and find a Yemeni village. There, he received assistance that eventually put him in contact with the IOM, enabling him to return home.

Some migrant children at the centre said they left for Saudi Arabia because they had seen many others go and thought it was a chance to make something of their lives  and return with money.

Kabir*, just 16-year-old, thought he could use his skills as a herder and help manage the massive herds of sheep and goats imported into Saudi Arabia annually for the Muslim feasts, but he too just ended up ransomed by traffickers who had hired Ethiopians to communicate – and beat – their prisoners.

He said when he returned home, he would be sure to warn others about the perils of migration.

“I want to restart my education and help my family,” said Kabir. “It is death if you go there – it is better to transform oneself and thrive inside your own country, that’s what I would tell them.”

*Names changed to protect the children’s identities.

Humanitarian partners launch campaign to address funding gaps in Ethiopia drought response

(Addis Ababa, 23 March 2016):  Humanitarian partners today launched a 90-day campaign to raise awareness on the urgent need for an additional funding for the drought crisis in Ethiopia to address the humanitarian resource gap.

“Ethiopia is currently contending with one of the most serious climatic shocks in recorded history with ten million people facing lost harvests and livestock as well as severe water shortages and health risks,” said Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onuchie, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia.  “We are launching this campaign to advocate for increased funding commensurate with the scale and severity of this crisis.’

While Ethiopia’s 2016 US$1.4 billion appeal has received over US$758 million from the Ethiopian government and the international community, significant life-saving gaps remain across all sectors. The four months lead time to get relief commodities to people in need means that action is required now.

Commending the Ethiopian government, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator noted that the government is one of the largest financial contributors to the crisis so far and also leads in the coordination of a complex inter-sector response, which uses government systems and relies on national capacity.

`We are indeed thankful and encouraged by the donors who have stepped up to support Ethiopia in this drought crisis,’ said the Commissioner Mitiku Kassa, National Disaster Risk Management Commission. `Some of these donors joined the Government to respond at the onset of the crisis in October last year. They did so knowing that it costs three times more to treat severe malnutrition than to provide the food and other associated support that might have prevented that child’s descent into severe acute malnutrition.”

Noting that the international community stands to gain much from supporting Ethiopia in the drought response, the Humanitarian Coordinator observed that drought response is not just about saving lives  it is about protecting development gains – gains which the Government and its development partners have worked tirelessly to build up over decades.

“The Government’s vision for development, enshrined in the second Growth and Transformation Plan, promises to steer Ethiopia further down its already remarkable path of progress,” said Ms. Eziakonwa-Onuchie. “We need to rally urgently to protect the development gains of Ethiopia over the past decade and ensure the country remains on its remarkable development trajectory. Urgent and substantial investment in the humanitarian crisis response this year is the only way to ensure this and we must act now.”

Climate change and lack of sanitation threaten water safety for millions: UNICEF

#ClimateChain Instagram campaign will highlight water and the environment

Drought in Ethiopia
Harko, 12, walks across the land with her younger brother. She is no longer going to school as is forced to go in search of water almost every day, travelling at night to avoid the heat and not returning to Haro Huba until well into the afternoon of the next day. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

 New York/Addis Ababa, 21 March 2016 – On the eve of World Water Day, UNICEF said the push to bring safe water to millions around the world is going to be even more challenging due to climate change, which threatens both water supply and water safety for millions of children living in drought- or flood-prone areas.

In 2015 at the end of the Millennium Development Goal era, all but 663 million people around the world had drinking water from improved sources – which are supposed to separate water from contact with excreta. However data from newly available testing technology show that an estimated 1.8 billion people may be drinking water contaminated by e-coli – meaning there is faecal material in their water, even from some improved sources. 

“Now that we can test water more cheaply and efficiently than we were able to do when the MDGs were set, we are coming to terms with the magnitude of the challenge facing the world when it comes to clean water,” said Sanjay Wijeserkera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. “With the new Sustainable Development Goals calling for ‘safe’ water for everyone, we’re not starting from where the MDGs left off; it is a whole new ball game.” 

One of the principal contributors to faecal contamination of water is poor sanitation. Globally 2.4 billion people lack proper toilets and just under 1 billion of them defecate in the open. This means faeces can be so pervasive in many countries and communities that even some improved water sources become contaminated.

The safety concerns are rising due to climate change.

In March 2015, a year ago, Ethiopia celebrated the achievement of meeting MDG 7c by halving the number of people without access to safe water since 1990 – 57 per cent of the population now using safe drinking water. During the celebrations, it was noted that the majority of the MDG water supplies have been constructed in the densely populated highland regions. Thousands of hand dug wells, springs and small piped water schemes have been constructed to serve the highland populations using shallow and accessible surface water. 

In comparison, limited water supply development has taken place in the water scarce areas of Eastern Ethiopia. Inaccessible and deep groundwater resources make water supply to these areas costly and complex. Combined with this, the negative effects of climate change such as changing rainfall patterns and increased surface air temperatures are resulting in increased evapotranspiration of available limited water sources. 

For many years, UNICEF Ethiopia has worked to develop water sources in water scarce areas of the country. In its current Country Programme, UNICEF is assisting the Government of Ethiopia in exploring the use of satellite/remote sensing technologies to identify deep groundwater sources. These sources are then being developed through multiple village water schemes which supply water to residents (women and girls) in villages, schools and health centres. 

When water becomes scarce during droughts, populations resort to unsafe surface water. At the other end of the scale, floods damage water and sewage treatment facilities, and spread faeces around, very often leading to an increase in water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea. 

Higher temperatures brought on by climate change are also set to increase the incidence of water-linked diseases like malaria, dengue – and now Zika – as mosquito populations rise and their geographic reach expands. 

According to UNICEF, most vulnerable are the nearly 160 million children under 5 years old globally who live in areas at high risk of drought. Around half a billion live in flood zones. Most of them live in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia.

Starting on World Water Day and ending with the signing of the Paris Agreement on 22 April, UNICEF is launching a global Instagram campaign to raise awareness of the link between water, the environment, and climate change.

Using the #ClimateChain hashtag, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, and other prominent figures will figuratively join hands with members of the public in a chain of photographs intended to urge action to address climate change. The images will be presented at the signing of the Paris Agreement. 

UNICEF is also responding to the challenges of climate change by focusing on disaster risk reduction for water supplies. For example:

  • Nearly 20,000 children in Bangladesh now have access to climate and disaster-resilient sources of water through an aquifer-recharge system which captures water during the monsoon season, purifies it, and stores it underground.
  • In Madagascar, UNICEF is helping local authorities make classrooms for 80,000 children cyclone- and flood-proof, and provide access to disaster-resilient sources of water.
  • In drought-prone Kiribati, new rainwater-harvesting and storage facilities are improving communities’ access to safe drinking water.

 In a recent publication, Unless We Act Now, UNICEF has set out a 10-point climate agenda for children. It sets out concrete steps for governments, the private sector and ordinary people to take in order to safeguard children’s futures and their rights.

Eliminate Female Genital Mutilation by 2030, say UNFPA and UNICEF

Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on the 2016 International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM

Mariame Habib, 17, was subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) when she was a child.
Mariame Habib, 17 years old and 9 months pregnant, was subjected to (FGM/C) Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting ) when she was a child. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Tsegaye

 

NEW YORK, 5 February 2016 – “FGM is a violent practice, scarring girls for life — endangering their health, depriving them of their rights, and denying them the chance to reach their full potential. 

“FGM is widespread.  It is a global problem that goes well beyond Africa and the Middle East, where the practice has been most prevalent — affecting communities in Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America.  And the number of girls and women at risk will only get larger if current population trends continue, wiping out hard-won gains. 

“FGM is discrimination.  It both reflects and reinforces the discrimination against women and girls, perpetuating a vicious cycle that is detrimental to development and to our progress as a human family. 

“FGM must end. In September at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, 193 nations unanimously agreed to a new global target of eliminating FGM by 2030.  This recognition that FGM is a global concern is a critical milestone.  

“But the recognition, while important, is not enough.  To protect the wellbeing and dignity of every girl, we need to take responsibility as a global community for ending FGM. 

“That means we need to learn more — improving our data collection to measure the full extent of the practice — and do more. We need to encourage more communities and families to abandon FGM.  We need to work with larger numbers of medical communities — including traditional and medical professionals — persuading them to refuse to perform or support FGM.  We need to support more women and girls who have undergone the harmful practice and provide them with services and help to overcome the trauma they have suffered. And we need to support and empower girls around the world to make their voices heard and call out to put an end to FGM.  

“All of us must join in this call. There simply is no place for FGM in the future we are striving to create –  a future where every girl will grow up able to experience her inherent dignity, human rights and equality by 2030.

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

In Ethiopia, despite a steady reduction in FGM/C nationally over the past decade, still 23 per cent (nearly one out of four) girls between the ages of 0 to 14 undergo this practice (Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS) 2011). According to the same source, FGM/C is practiced across all regions in Ethiopia with varying degree with the prevalence in Amhara (47 per cent), Benshangul-Gumuz (24 per cent) and Tigray (22 per cent), Oromia (17 per cent) and Harari (14 per cent). The regions with the highest prevalence rate are Somali (70 per cent) and Afar (60 per cent). The impact of FGM/C in these two regions is severe as the two regions practice the worst form of FGM/C which involves total elimination of the external female genitalia and stitching, just leaving a small opening for urination.  

The Government of Ethiopia has taken strategic and programmatic measures to eliminate FGM/C. Some of the key actions include; endorsement of the National Strategy and Action Plan on Harmful Traditional Practices against Women and Children and communication strategy for social norm change and establishment of the National Alliance to End Child Marriage and FGM/C. Moreover, the Government has shown a ground-breaking commitment to end FGM/C and child marriage by the year 2025 at the London Girls’ Summit and reinforced by setting a target to reduce the practice to 0.5 per cent in the Growth and Transformation Plan II (GTP II). 

UNICEF is supporting the Government of Ethiopia in developing a roadmap which defines the long term strategic and programme interventions and the role of different actors, strengthening the National Alliance through supporting the establishment of functional secretariat, enriching the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) module to include better data and consensus building sessions with religious leaders in collaboration with UNFPA and other Alliance members.

UNICEF and UNFPA have been working hand in hand for many areas in Ethiopia for the abandonment of FGM/C. One of the exemplary programme that can be sited is the joint programme on the abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Afar Region. The programme has a social mobilization component which includes; facilitated community dialogue, working with religious and clan leaders, youth dialogue targeting in and out of school girls and a care component which involves tracking cases of complications with linkage to health facilities. Also, improving enforcement of the law through increasing legal literacy, strengthening special units in the law enforcement bodies for better reporting and management of cases. The programme has recorded pronounced success in facilitating declaration of abandonment of the practice in 6 districts in Afar Region, and eventually expanding to other districts in Afar and other regions.

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.