Information and stories about Ethiopia

Addis Guzo, Supporting People with Disabilities in EthiopiaAs of 10 years ago, nearly 15 million people in Ethiopia were living with disabilities. The vast majority of these individuals live in poverty due to a lack of proper infrastructure, education and awareness of how to treat disabilities. Lower and middle-income countries, a category that includes countries like Ethiopia, tend to have difficulties in supporting people with disabilities. This is because there are often very few centers where people with disabilities can get the care that they need, and even those centers can be hard to access by the majority of the population.

Aiding People with Disabilities in Ethiopia

Although the country has dedicated itself to helping people with disabilities through agreements like the 2006 African Decades of Disabled Persons, structural barriers have made it rather difficult to truly support people.

However, some organizations are starting to addressing the lack of resources for people with disabilities in Ethiopia. One such program is Addis Guzo. Founded in 2012, this Switzerland-based NGO supports people with disabilities in Ethiopia through integration efforts, as well as by educating the public. In order to benefit the local communities, the NGO is also staffed entirely with people from Ethiopia.

Addis Guzo’s Programs

There are two important programs that Addis Guzo runs to help people with disabilities in Ethiopia. The first is the Wheelchair Workshop. Every year, Addis Guzo collects wheelchairs in Switzerland and sets up a program so that people who need a wheelchair in Ethiopia can get a new wheelchair or repair their existing model. The program has a large impact, collecting around 600 wheelchairs annually.

Wheelchairs can be important tools to drastically improve the lives of their users by enabling mobility. Without wheelchairs, it can be difficult for people with disabilities to live the lives they want, or to do more traditional work. Having a wheelchair can improve this situation by helping people integrate themselves by enabling them to travel long distances for work or be active for longer periods of time. In fact, a study of wheelchair users in Ethiopia estimated that using a wheelchair increased the probability of employment by 15%, as well as increased wages and average hours of work

The second program is Rehabilitation, Economic Empowerment and Sports. The goal of this program is to give people living with disabilities in Ethiopia hope for the future by supporting them in a wide variety of ways. This includes business partnerships, sports leagues and counseling.

Supporting People with Disabilities in Ethiopia

Such programs offered by Addis Guzo are essential to help build skills among people with disabilities in Ethiopia and foster inclusion. Sports can give people leadership and teamwork skills they may not have otherwise developed. Additionally, sports can help build community among players, helping people to network and build important connections that they can use later in life. Programs like the one put forth by Addis Guzo can foster these connections and help people with disabilities integrate themselves into society, something Ethiopia has historically struggled with.

– Thomas Gill
Photo: Flickr

Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia
In eastern Africa, NGOs are beginning to reverse public opinion on a bloody ritual. Female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice involving the non-medical removal of external female genitalia, is a procedure that roughly 200 million women have undergone worldwide. While the cultural premise for FGM varies depending on the region, the practice stems from broader themes of repressing the female sexuality prevalent in eastern African society. Women experience female genital mutilation in Ethiopia for marital or religious reasons, and the societal precedent for FGM threatens young women with public shame and ostracization if they refuse the operation.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation usually involves the complete or partial removal of the clitoris, although the procedure varies in scope and can also include the removal of the labia minora or the closure of parts of the vaginal opening. This physical trauma can result in life-threatening infections and long term problems with menstruation and infertility. Additionally, the permanent disfigurement that FGM causes may instigate depression and low self-esteem.

The United Nations classified FGM as a priority of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, but the practice is still a problem in countries such as Ethiopia, where according to a 2016 study, 65% of women and 47% of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 have undergone the procedure. The Ethiopian government banned FGM in 2005, but the criminalization of the ritual has done little to change public support for it. This is due in part to the fact that in Ethiopia, areas that are rural and lack public education resources include the highest prevalence of female genital mutilation in Ethiopia. In these areas, traditional healers usually perform the operation rather than licensed medical practitioners, meaning that legal threats hold less weight than they do in formal medical settings.

Kembatti Mentti Gezimma-Tope (KMG)

One organization, however, is having a profound effect on reversing the prevalence of FGM in Ethiopia. Kembatti Mentti Gezimma-Tope (KMG), is an Ethiopian NGO dedicated to raising public awareness on the harmful effects of female genital mutilation in the region of Kembatta Tembaro. One can translate KMG’s name to “Kembatta Women Standing Together,” and in the 22 years since it began its work, it has reduced public approval of FGM in Kembatta Tembaro from 97% in 1997 to less than 5% today.

KMG employs several strategies to combat public support for FGM, including public education campaigns to uphold women’s human rights and build trust with local communities. It also mobilizes public pressure against FGM, with public weddings for uncircumcised women (who traditionally others would consider ineligible for marriage). Additionally, trained advocates spread throughout the region who inform men of the health risks FGM poses to women and their ability to give birth.

Rohi Wedu

In the Afar region, Rohi Wedu, another NGO focused on public education is having an impact. Pastoral clans characterize the Afar region, of which the majority of the population is Muslim. Rohi Wedu’s campaign to end female genital mutilation has necessarily tailored itself to the dynamics of information sharing between different clans in the area. The organization worked in conjunction with UNICEF to select leaders and prominent figures from different clans to lead “Community Dialogue” sessions, who then learned to understand the harmful effects of FGM. These trusted community leaders then went on to disseminate the information to their respective clans, as well as to provide counseling to young and prospective parents.

Rohi Wedu’s locally-led education campaigns were incredibly successful, with up to 94% of focus group participants believing that practitioners in their area had abandoned FGM. The organization’s success was largely due to the fact that religious leaders led community dialogue sessions, which eliminated the religious precedent for FGM in the Afari clans.

The work that NGOs like Rohi Wedu and KMG are doing is proof of the efficacy of locally-led public awareness campaigns in combating the practice of female genital mutilation in Ethiopia. While millions of young women still experience cutting each year, the cultural shifts taking place in Ethiopia demonstrate that long term change is possible when it happens in accordance with local communities.

– Kieran Hadley
Photo: Flickr

literacy in EthiopiaThere are 781 million adults in the world who are considered illiterate. This statistic reflects more than just the ability of people to read, it is inherently tied to the poverty rate. In fact, 43% of adults with low literacy rates live in poverty. There are multiple issues that contribute to this, however the most influential is education. Several programs address literacy in Ethiopia.

The Relationship Between Literacy and Poverty

In the fight against global poverty, education is a sought after resource. With increased education comes increased opportunities for those within the community to contribute to the economy and increase their prospects. In order to bolster educational efforts, children must be able to read. Literacy is considered to be the foundation of learning and is directly responsible for the success of children in education as a whole. Without this vital skill, children are unlikely to move onto higher education or secure high paying jobs. This stagnant economic standing is perpetuated through families because parents with low literacy rates are 72% likely to pass that low literacy rate down. The resulting generational illiteracy is a detriment to the growth of communities because it cements them into a lower economic standing.

The importance of literacy within the fight against poverty is underscored by the World Bank. It has coined the term “Learning Poverty” which refers to the inability of a child to read and comprehend by age 10. The severity of “Learning Poverty” aids in the prediction of future literacy and economic success. Additionally, the World Bank believes that this statistic is a useful indicator as to whether or not global educational goals are being met. In relation to poverty, these goals are paramount in the rate of sustainable development in poor countries. Moreover, poverty would be reduced by 12% if all students in low-income countries were able to read. As educational goals are met and literacy is increased, impoverished communities have the opportunity to create sustainable change in terms of their economic standing and overall quality of life.

Illiteracy and Poverty in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has the second largest population in Africa, with 109.2 million people. Unfortunately, the country also suffers from rampant poverty as it was reported in 2016 that 24% of Ethiopia’s population is considered impoverished. Poverty is a multifaceted and complicated issue, however, one can generally find a low literacy rate in countries with corresponding high poverty rates. In Ethiopia, this holds true because just under half of its population is illiterate. Given the extreme disadvantage that low literacy rates put on communities, there have been multiple efforts to improve the Ethiopian education system. and literacy in Ethiopia.

READ II

READ II is a project that focuses on the education of children considered at risk of school failure or dropout due to the cognitive, emotional and physical effects of hunger, violence and displacement. READ II spans 3,000 schools across 50 districts, ultimately wishing to expand the basic model to reach a targeted 15 million learners. Specifically, within the Addis Adaba, Tigray and Amhara regions, the project is working to improve the preparedness of teachers, increase support for women’s education and push for the widespread education of English.

Unlock Literacy

Unlock Literacy is a project founded by World Vision in 2012 that has reached a total of 1.7 million children in the endeavor to increase the literacy rate in impoverished countries. Unlock Literacy is committed to the implementation of teacher training programs, better educational resources and appropriate reading materials. The program acknowledges the fact that oftentimes rural areas are unable to attain reading material that is applicable to the children being educated. As a result, it has aided in the creation of over one million new books in the common languages of the students. Unlock Literacy has also seen success as children who could read with comprehension rose from 3% to 25% after the program.

READ TA

READ TA was founded in 2012 by USAID in partnership with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education in order to advance writing and reading among 15 million early education students. With READ TA’s methods, more than $17 million has been provided to train 113,385 teachers in safe and practical learning initiatives. In recognition of low literacy’s association with poverty, the program also seeks to improve the student’s overall understanding of class materials. This has been accomplished by giving schools the necessary educational resources that have been designed to appeal to the student reading it. Additionally, READ TA has adapted 320 educational materials to address the local context of communities living outside of administrative regions.

With organizations and programs committed to improving literacy in Ethiopia, the prospect of reduced poverty in the region is hopeful, as is reaching the goal of alleviating global poverty overall.

– Stella Vallon
Photo: Flickr

Fighting Period Poverty in EthiopiaPeriod poverty, or the lack of access to affordable menstrual hygiene products, is a serious issue in many countries around the world. In Ethiopia, menstruation is still considered highly taboo and the topic is rarely discussed or taught in schools. This leads to stigma and shame for many girls that are exacerbated by the difficulty of obtaining sanitary products such as pads and tampons. In fact, 75% of Ethiopian women and girls do not have access to proper menstrual products and 25% cannot afford to use any sanitary products during their period, often resorting to using makeshift products such as dry grass or newspaper. The social stigma and poor hygiene surrounding menstruation create a barrier for young women receiving their education in Ethiopia. Throughout the country, 17% of girls have been forced to miss school due to the inability to properly manage their periods, although this number is closer to 50% in some impoverished rural areas. To combat period poverty in Ethiopia, local organizations are stepping up to fight the stigma and develop affordable menstrual hygiene products.

3 Organizations Fighting Period Poverty in Ethiopia

  1. Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory: An Ethiopian woman named Freweini Mebrahtu used her background in chemical engineering and her experiences growing up with period poverty in Ethiopia to create the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory. This factory trains and employs local women to create washable, reusable sanitary pads that cost up to 90% less than average disposable pads. With proper care, the pads can last up to two years, making them more environmentally and financially sustainable for impoverished Ethiopian women. Mebrahtu’s factory creates 750,000 pads a year and has benefited nearly 800,000 women and girls since production began in 2009. Because of the widespread impact of her company, Mebrahtu was voted the CNN Hero of the Year in 2019.
  2. Dignity Period: Dignity Period is an organization started by American professor Dr. Lewis Wall that works to increase access to menstrual supplies and education in the Tigray and Afar regions of northern Ethiopia. This organization works in partnership with the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory to create greater accessibility to menstrual products. Since 2014, Dignity Period has bought and distributed over 150,000 free menstrual hygiene kits containing reusable pads and underwear. They also work with Mekelle University in northern Ethiopia to hold menstrual health training and workshops for both male and female students. These workshops refute common myths and taboos and give students scientific information about how and why menstruation occurs to end widespread beliefs that periods are shameful or a curse. https://www.fairplanet.org/story/reusable-sanitary-pads-keep-ethiopias-girls-in-school/ Dignity Period has provided supplies and workshops to over 336,000 students so far and saw school absences among girls drop 24% in the areas where they focus their outreach.
  3. Noble Cup: Founded by Sara Eklund, the Noble Cub is the first Ethiopian menstrual cup brand and provides a safe, affordable option for women suffering from period poverty in Ethiopia. These products can last up to five years even with limited access to water or sanitation, making them financially sustainable in the long term. Noble Cup distributes these menstrual products and holds workshops with the slogan “Every Queen Bleeds” that teach girls about menstrual health and safety as well as female biology. The workshops aim to help eliminate the stigma surrounding menstruation in Ethiopia. Eklund also leads advocacy projects to make public facilities more period-friendly, such as adding trash cans to bathroom stalls, and scientific research posters on female reproductive health issues.

Although period poverty in Ethiopia is still a serious issue, these organizations are working to fight the stigma and better the lives of women and girls throughout the country.

Allie Beutel
Photo: Flickr 

Manufacturing in Ethiopia
Ethiopia has cultivated a substantial amount of progress in transforming its economy in the last decade due to a sharp focus on government policies and development strategies to advance its budding manufacturing industry. The country is experiencing a thriving working-age population (workers aged 15 to 29) and a large portion of these eager workers are women.

As the country’s priorities shift from agriculture to industry as its most dominant source of employment and profit, the role of women and manufacturing has become fundamental to actualizing Ethiopia’s goal of being a middle-income country by 2025.

About 80-90% of jobs created in manufacturing have gone to women, and as much of a progressive hurdle that is for Ethiopia’s labor force, there is still much work that needs to occur to make the manufacturing industry all-inclusive. Addressing these issues is crucial to achieving sustainable growth and transformation in Ethiopia, and government leaders are beginning to recognize faults and mobilize towards ensuring the representation of women in the workplace.

The Role of Women in an Expanding Industry

On average, around 62% of women have migrated from rural regions to work in the manufacturing industry. With women being the core reason why industrialization in Ethiopia has boosted the economy, there comes a question as to why women are dominating the scene in jobs such as agro-processing, textile and apparel, and leather goods sub-sectors. An improving economy is a relevant reason why women are seeking more work, but another factor is that the majority of women working in the industry have less education, are younger and are working with lower pay than men. This widens the faction of who can work and is a cheaper asset for industries. Companies also tend to prefer women over men because they perceive them as more quality-oriented, dependable, committed, stable and obedient to leadership.

For 89% of women, these industry jobs provide them a steady income for the first time in their lives. A reported 78% said that their income has improved, and 63% stated that their family’s standard of living has also improved since working in the manufacturing industry. As positive as this sounds, there is data that contradicts these points. On average, about 40% of worker’s wages earned goes to housing payments, and data has shown that earnings are barely covering basic living costs.

Continual Challenges Women Endure at Work

The Ethiopian Constitution (1995), Labor Proclamation No.377 (2003) and other laws have provided protections to female workers’ equal rights. However, the lack of enforcement of these laws has shown to delay any real progress.

In the manufacturing workplace, women are experiencing discrimination and harassment as well as oppressive risks when traveling to and from work. A United Stated Development Programme (UNDP) report stated that women are only earning 77% of what men make even with proper education and experience. Opportunities to make more in wages have proven to be scarce due to gender-segregation in the Ethiopian industry. This stems from a gross misconception that women are incapable of working high-level positions, resulting in women having a much harder time achieving leadership positions— with 60% of women in the garment production cutting stage, 95% in the sewing stage and only 15% in the finishing stages.

If women do reach managerial or ownership positions, they frequently face restrictions on resources, markets, materials and general information that is critical for a profitable business.

Breaking Barriers to Manifest an Economic Dream

Women and manufacturing in Ethiopia are two dynamic elements that have the potential to generate a level of economic prosperity that Ethiopia has been dreaming of. But in order to fulfill these goals, major improvements need to occur on the ground level as well as the policy level to make labor in the industry more gender-inclusive. The Government of Ethiopia, in cooperation with development partners, has already launched proposals that target the standing issues.

For instance, the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) has worked in partnership with the Department for International Development’s (DFID) Enterprise Partners Programme in establishing and delivering gender relations training packages for women workers and their— often male— managers in the industry. The training for women focuses on reproductive health, personal and menstrual hygiene, nutrition, sexual harassment, communications skills and confidence-building.

The Ministry of Industry (MoI) is also contributing to strategies and objectives for women and manufacturing in Ethiopia by setting up a gender coordination unit at each industrial park, especially at factories with over 1,000 women workers. A 30% minimum quota is also in development for women in leadership and high-skill job employment that focuses on recruitment and promotions with annual rewards to those that perform best.

Visualizing an End to a Misogynistic System

The recognition of a woman’s value in the workplace is emanant, especially the role of women and manufacturing in Ethiopia. Although there is still much that Ethiopia needs to do, the country has already taken big strides in ensuring women receive representation and equal treatment. On a political level, Prime Minister Abiy has appointed more women leaders in government, giving them as equal an opportunity as men. If businesses follow by example, Ethiopia will acquire an economic transformation that could inspire other countries to do the same.

– Alyssa McGrail
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Ethiopia
The capture and trade of human beings for the sole purpose of sex, domestic servitude and/or forced labor is hardly anything new. It has had various names in the past, with one of the most notable being “enslavement.” While human trafficking has gained attention from governments and organizations worldwide, human trafficking in Ethiopia is prevalent and affects its residents.

Those Targeted

For years, migrants have been the main victims of human trafficking in Ethiopia. Another potential, vulnerable percentage of victims of human trafficking in Ethiopia are children of poor, pastoral backgrounds. This type of background ensures that the child would be susceptible to the promises of a better life; as a result, traffickers frequently lure these children to sell them into harsher, more cruel conditions. In 2018, both regional and federal governments intercepted 10,100 children and adults who had the intent of migrating for work, whereas they intercepted 27,877 men and women of transnational trafficking in 2019, many of them intending to leave Ethiopia for domestic work overseas. Meanwhile, in January 2020, reports determined that 62 potential child victims existed.

In 2018 and 2019, many trafficking cases involved the illegal smuggling of migrants. Migrants are more prone to experiencing trafficking because they may migrate illegally or through irregular migration, also known as “human smuggling.”

The Ethiopian Government’s Efforts

In 2020, the Ethiopian government made strides against human trafficking, despite it not meeting the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in its region according to the U.S. Department of State’s 2020 Trafficking in Person’s report. With the realization that there is a need for a proportional focus on sex trafficking internally and labor trafficking transnationally, Ethiopia put two separate prosecution datasets into place. This resulted in a system to keep track of whether a crime is an internal or transnational crime.

According to the Trafficking in Person’s report, government officials investigated and convicted transnational traffickers and, for the first time in 20 years, reported holding accountable traffickers by strict penalties for victims they exploited in forced labor or sex trafficking within the country. Penalties for traffickers caught involve prosecution and conviction by authorities.

Though inadequacy might still be prominent with the Ethiopian government involving the overall scale of the trafficking issue, it has done better with taking care of victims by jointly operating migration response centers in Afar and Metema, and operating child protection units in several major cities.

The United Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

In 2020, the UNODC has decided to support Ethiopia in its efforts to end trafficking. According to an article from the United Nations, the UNODC has actively contributed to developing regulations by stiffening penalties for trafficking and smuggling for the country’s new Proclamation on countering Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants 1178/2000.

The UNODC regional project Enhancing Effective and Victim-Centred Criminal Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons in Eastern Africa involves a Drafting and Consultation Workshop to help offer support. According to the same article from the United Nations, the UNODC organized the workshop that local officials hosted, bringing together expert prosecutors from the National Anti-Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants Task Force Secretariat, the Legal Studies, Drafting and dissemination Directorate, representatives from the Ministry of Labour and UNODC experts.

Additional Aid

The nongovernmental organization called Hope for Children has headquarters in Perth, Western Australia. Jacqui Gilmour founded the organization in 2004 as an anti-human trafficking program with the goal of helping and providing opportunities to women and children in Ethiopia. According to its website, self-help groups or collective savings and loans are key to this strategy. It also provides quality vocational skills training so that vulnerable women can gain access to employment opportunities in the Ethiopian workforce.

The head of this program is an educator at AGAR Ethiopia, a charitable society focused on the rescue and rehabilitation of traumatized people in Ethiopia. Agar means “supporter” in Amharic. Although no percentage of how many this program has helped is available, Hope for Children is adamant about raising awareness about the vulnerability of migrant workers and the physical/psychological abuse they might face at the hands of their employers. Through other programs, Hope for Children has impacted impoverished families and aided in the education of children in Ethiopia.

With progress in ending human trafficking in Ethiopia through the support of the UNODC and Hope for Children, the Ethiopian government seems more determined than ever to provide the protection that its people deserve, most notably for those migrating in search of a brighter future across borders.

– Thomas Williams
Photo: Pixabay

How Ethnic Violence in Ethiopia Deepens PovertyOver the past two decades, Ethiopia has experienced explosive economic growth, lifting millions out of poverty in the process. Between 2000 and 2016, the share of citizens living in absolute poverty dropped from 40%, the highest in Africa, to 24%. Under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was appointed in 2018, the nation has also opened up politically. However, a persistent scourge for the country that has continued under Ahmed is ethnic violence.

Ethiopia is a melting pot of over 80 ethnolinguistic groups all living under one multi-ethnic federation. Long-simmering conflicts over access to land and political power have frequently boiled over into violence. While ethnic conflict is tragic, it also has tangible and concrete impacts on the economic prospects of impoverished Ethiopians. Ethnic violence in Ethiopia is endemic in Oromia, the country’s most populated region, and the Amhara region, home to some of the poorest people on the planet.

Ethnic Strife in Oromia

Oromia makes up approximately one-third of Ethiopia’s total area and is home to 37 million people. The region has achieved significant food insecurity reductions in recent years. Still, an astonishingly high number of people, especially children, are impoverished. In Oromia, 90% of children under 18 experience multidimensional poverty. This high number of vulnerable residents pairs poorly with the area’s history of ethnic tensions.

Despite being the largest Ethiopian ethnic group, the Oromos have not held power in modern Ethiopia. Consequently, Oromos have banded together within ethnic-nationalist movements, such as the Oromo Liberation Front, in order to push for political empowerment. The narratives promoted by such outfits have often been accusatory and hostile toward other ethnic groups. Ethnic resentment is baked into the Oromia region’s identity.

In 2018, the outlook in Oromia became particularly fraught. In the spring of that year, a scarcity of productive farmland led to an intense conflict between Gedeos and Gujis, two smaller ethnic groups. In the fall, Oromos clashed with other communities in two neighboring provinces. Just in the first seven months of the year, over 800,000 Oromian residents had been forced to flee their homes due to conflict and become internally displaced.

Internally-displaced peoples (IDPs) is a label that covers far too many Ethiopians in Oromia and beyond. Ethiopia was home to 2.9 million IDPs in 2018, the most in any country. Unfortunately, becoming internally displaced is often a precursor for falling into poverty. Farmers who fled Oromia in 2018 left their land behind, abandoning their entire livelihoods and becoming entirely dependent on outside humanitarian support. A World Bank report on the world’s forcibly displaced observed that displacement-induced poverty “condemns generations—mostly women and children—to a life on the margins.”

Luckily, Ahmed’s government has managed to break through some of the major fault lines, including between Oromos and southern Somali groups. The thousands of Gedeos who were displaced within Oromia two years ago have mostly been able to return. Yet to the north, the struggle of one ethnic group demonstrates that a steady home is no guarantee for prosperity.

The Plight of the Amhara

Under the Ethiopian monarchy, Amharas dominated the country’s government. However, since the overthrow of the emperor in 1974, the community has suffered a steep fall from grace. Similar to Oromia, poverty is inescapable for many in the Amhara region with 26% of the population living below the poverty line and 91% of children are multi-dimensionally deprived.

Due to poverty’s catastrophic toll, the Amharans lead the world in one undesirable area: The prevalence of trachoma, a disease that blinds millions of the world’s poor. Spread by flies and poor hygiene, the disease thrives in Amhara, where 84% of the population lives in rural areas and 47% of households lack access to safe drinking water. Entire villages complain of poor eyesight and intense pain that, without treatment, leads to blindness.

Adding to their misfortune, other ethnic groups demonize the Amharas for their involvement in the country’s imperial history, inspiring a sense of victimhood among Amharas that only creates new waves of conflict. In 2018, authorities of the neighboring Benishangul-Gumuz region accused ethnic Amharas of killing 200 people over a land dispute. One year later, Amhara’s regional president was murdered by the region’s own security chief, who had links to Amharan ethnic-nationalist groups, in a suspected coup attempt. This shocking development vastly destabilized the region and emboldened radical ethnic armed groups.

The aftermath of the assassination demonstrates another upshot of ethnic violence in Ethiopia that can worsen poverty: Profound instability. Following the coup attempt, a harsh crackdown on Amhara ensued, including the arrest of 250 people and, dismayingly, a total internet shutdown. Growing internet access across Ethiopia and other African nations have been hailed as a major step forward developmentally, but internet shutdowns reverse this progress and exact millions of dollars in economic losses.

A More Inclusive Future

While the government’s efforts to quell ethnic violence in Ethiopia and its resulting human impacts have not always been successful, Ahmed has inspired hope that peace is achievable. The creation of a national commission focused on ethnic reconciliation is a step forward, as is the prime minister’s promise to reform the country’s federal system. In Amhara, the distribution of antibiotics has led to a major decrease in trachoma prevalence. Hopefully, Amharans who had their vision saved can soon open their eyes to a brighter future ahead—for them and all Ethiopians.

– Jack Silvers
Photo: Flickr

Productive Safety Net ProgramAccess to safe and adequate food is a basic human right under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, food insecurity has been a persistent issue around the world for decades. One key country that has suffered from high rates of food-insecurity is Ethiopia, with around 32 million people living in a state of hunger or malnourishment. However, in 2005, the Ethiopian Government implemented a new way to help meet the needs of vulnerable households through the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP).

Food Insecurity and its Effects on Health

Food security is a vital aspect of health and well-being. The main causes of food insecurity can be attributed to many influences such as low rates of agricultural production, shortage of water and poor sanitation, climate change and natural disasters, among a plethora of other factors.

Furthermore, food insecurity can have significant consequences on communities both in economic terms and in the effect of the physical health of individual members of the community. Research has shown that food insecurity is associated with increased health risks such as cognitive development problems in children, general malnutrition, higher incidents of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and many other ailments.

The Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP)

As rates of food insecurity grew across sub-Saharan Africa, the Ethiopian Government created the PSNP in 2005 in order to provide a more productive and systematic approach to aid vulnerable populations. As explained by the World Bank report on the program, “The PSNP incorporates a number of interesting features, such as public works activities geared towards improving climate resiliency; a risk financing facility to help poor households and communities to better cope with transitory shocks and the use of targeting methods that assist the most climate-vulnerable community members to obtain the full benefits of consumption smoothing and asset protection.”

Results and Impacts of the Program

The Ethiopian Government faced many challenges in implementing this program, such as difficulties in balancing female participation in public work programs and household responsibilities. However, PSNP has shown a positive impact on Ethiopia’s food-insecurity rates and therefore further expanded efforts from 2010 to 2014 with improved strategies and implementation tactics.

As a result of these efforts, the PSNP is credited with the reduction of poverty rates in Ethiopia by two percentage points as of 2014. Furthermore, the program successfully benefited more than one million participants as well as their families. Research shows that the program improved both food security rates and led to a reduced number of months households went without sufficient food. Not only did the program positively affect food insecurity rates throughout Ethiopia, but the PSNP also aided in the improvement of the general health and well-being of many individuals.

The Promise of PSNP for the Future

As recognized around the world, Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program has been widely successful in aiding the country’s impoverished population and improving Ethiopia’s food security rates. Because this program targets food insecurity through agricultural aid, financial aid and structural aid, these strategies have helped to create a strong foundation for these vulnerable populations. Although this program has encountered obstacles in its execution, the PSNP continues to show promise in combatting extreme poverty and food insecurity throughout Ethiopia.

– Caroline Dunn
Photo: Flickr

The One WaSH National ProgrammeGlobally, at least 2 billion people do not have access to clean water. The ability to access clean water supplies and sanitation is a vital aspect of a country’s development. Improved water supply and sanitation positively affect economic growth and poverty reduction as water is essential domestically and agriculturally. Furthermore, clean water and sanitation are imperative to human health. Contaminated water can cause diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid. The issue of clean water is present worldwide and demands preventative action. Thankfully, the One WaSH National Programme is here to help.

Ethiopia is one country where the water crisis needs to be addressed. Close to 33 million people in Ethiopia lack access to a safe water supply and nearly 89 million don’t have access to basic sanitation. This lack of access is responsible for 90% of diarrheal disease occurrences, which is a leading cause of child mortality in Ethiopia. To fight this, the Ethiopian government along with partners developed the One WaSH National Programme in 2013. The goal was to drastically improve access to safe water and sanitation services throughout the country.

The ONE WaSH National Programme

The One WaSH National Programme aims to improve the health and well-being of communities in rural and urban areas. Their strategy to achieve this is to increase equal and sustainable access to clean water supplies, sanitation services and good hygiene practices. As explained by the IRC, “It combines a comprehensive range of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions that include capital investments to extend first-time access to water and sanitation, as well as investments, focused on developing the enabling environment, building capacity, ensuring the sustainability of service delivery, and behavioral change. It has rural, urban, institutional WaSH and capacity building components.”

Impacts of The Programme

Phase one of The One WaSH National Programme in Ethiopia began in October 2013 and lasted till July 2017. It boasted great results. In four years, 18.7 million people gained access to water supplies and the practice of open defecation reduced from 44% to 29%. Additionally, 1,280 school WASH facilities were constructed.

The One WaSH National Programme approved its second phase in 2018. This time, the overall growth and transformation of the program was the main target for improvement. Another objective was to diminish vulnerable infrastructure in drought-prone areas in Ethiopia. Doing so would create a climate-resilient water supply system that provides the community with safe and sustainable access to water. Results for this second phase are still being collected as it was expected to run through July 2020.

The Importance of Clean Water in Poverty Reduction

Access to basic water and sanitation are vital parts to improving the economy. As such, it is essential for eradicating poverty. Many health issues faced by the poor arise because of the consumption of contaminated water. Increased availability of basic water and sanitation services can aid in general public health and assist in reducing health care costs.

The ONE WaSH National Programme has not completely satisfied their goals of extending safe water supply to 98% of the country’s rural population and 100% of city dwellers. Nevertheless, they have made many great strides toward improving sanitation services. Overall, the program has contributed significantly toward improving the standard of living within these Ethiopian communities.

The ONE WaSH National Programme and similar endeavors have the power to greatly improved the population’s access to a safe water supply and reduce poverty in Ethiopia and worldwide.

Caroline Dunn
Photo: Flickr

innovations in poverty eradication in ethiopiaEthiopia, officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is located in East Africa. It has historically struggled to keep a majority of its population out of extreme poverty. In 1995, 71.1% of Ethiopia’s population lived on less than $1.90 a day. However, thanks to innovations in poverty eradication in Ethiopia, this figure has decreased to 30.8% as of 2015. The top innovations in poverty eradication in Ethiopia include economic development plans and the expansion of social services. Foreign aid from allied nations, like the U.S., has helped make these innovations in poverty eradication in Ethiopia possible.

Economic Development Plans

The main mechanism for successfully reducing poverty in Ethiopia is its chain of innovative economic development plans. Beginning with the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (PASDEP) in 2005, Ethiopia has implemented a series of these plans. Each last five years in order to adapt to the new market. In 2010, the First Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I) replaced the PASDEP. The Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) succeeded this plan in 2015.

The GTP II remains in place but is nearing the end of its five-year installment. The plan doubled down on the previous strategies’ prioritization of human resource and infrastructure development. As such, it has sustained economic growth in Ethiopia. This was most evident in Ethiopia’s huge spending increase in the education sector. Roughly one quarter of the nation’s total expenditures go toward education and training. Importantly, this far surpasses the allocated budget in every other nation in the region. Access to “universal primary education” also rose exponentially—an important milestone for the country. In addition, the plan called for large investments in roads, railways, power and agriculture.

The plan also focused on industrial development, strengthening the manufacturing industry to increase economic growth. Analyst for the Development Initiatives, Peace Nganwa, writes that “interventions that increase economic growth also contribute directly to poverty reduction.” Since the GTP II’s implementation, Ethiopia’s GDP has grown substantially. The total GDP grew from $64.6 billion in 2015 to $96.1 billion as of 2019, a whopping 48.8% increase.

Expansion of Social Services

Ethiopia’s focus on improved social services has dramatically increased the welfare of its citizens. Besides education, health, transportation, energy infrastructure and water and sanitation have expanded greatly. Health coverage in particular has been a priority for Ethiopia in the past few years. Substantial increases to healthcare funding brought Ethiopia’s access to health coverage to 98% in 2018. This was an important mark to hit, especially before the coronavirus pandemic reached the country.

Furthermore, water scarcity has historically been problematic for Ethiopia. The nation accounts for 7.5% of the global water crisis, affecting more than 62 million citizens. However, Ethiopia’s focus on the issue has helped reduce it significantly. This work has brought the country’s access to potable water to 66%. All of these social service expansions contributed to increasing the overall life expectancy of Ethiopians. Specifically, it now rests at 64.6 years.

International Assistance

Foreign development assistance made these innovations in poverty eradication in Ethiopia possible. In 2010, for instance, the $3.5 billion Ethiopia received in total foreign donations covered more than half of its spending. The largest contributor to this was the United States, giving $875 million.

As the nation plans another five years of poverty eradication measures, it faces one of the hardest challenges the world has come by: COVID-19. Ethiopia has proven that it can strategize to eradicate poverty within its borders. However, it needs assistance from foreign nations to make it truly achievable, now more than ever in the face of a pandemic.

– Asa Scott
Photo: Wikimedia