Information and stories about Ethiopia

Child Health Care in EthiopiaEthiopia is a fascinating case study relating to the mission of downsizing poverty. Although many Ethiopians do struggle, the country has made significant improvements in recent years. For example, 30 percent have fallen below the poverty line as of 2011. The poverty rate decreased from 44 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2011. During that time, the percentage of Ethiopians who are uneducated decreased from 70 to 50 percent. Additionally, the average life expectancy rose by 10 years. Maternal and child health care in Ethiopia has been on a similar trend of improvement.

Maternal Care

In 2000, only 22 percent of mothers saw a doctor for an antenatal check-up before having their baby. This rate reportedly increased to 37 percent in 2011. Although this progress is promising, one in 52 women in Ethiopia die due to childbirth-related causes every year. Furthermore, 257,000 children in this country will die before reaching age 5. Fortunately, many organizations remain committed to improving maternal and child health care in Ethiopia through a variety of methods.

Organizations Dedicated to Improving Ethiopia’s Maternal and Child Care

USAID has worked alongside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to bring change to Ethiopia. They have been working to improve coverage of universal family health care plans across the country. These plans include accessible prenatal care for
mothers. They also include increased immunizations and community-based management plans for childhood illnesses.

These two organizations focus on policy and advocacy to achieve their goals. Their success is shown in how poverty has decreased by 45 percent since the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation first established a grant in Ethiopia in 2002. They cannot take all the credit for this improvement, however, as other organizations have joined them in the fight for better maternal and child health care in Ethiopia.

The World Health Organization (WHO), with the support of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, has approached this issue from a different direction. In 2015, the WHO launched a program to monitor and improve the quality of health care in Ethiopian hospitals. In 2015, WHO collected baseline data. This was in addition to training and suggestions for improvement of labor and care in the hospitals.

Improving the Safety of Deliveries

One change implemented by many hospitals was the adaptation of the Safe Childbirth Checklist. The checklist presented 29 essential activities for doctors to perform during childbirth to ensure the safety of the mother and the newborn. The follow-up data collected in 2016 found significant change had been made after the initial visits. This resulted in an improvement in the quality of maternal and child health care in Ethiopia.

This is, as the Gates Foundation puts it, a story of “progress, not victory.” Many Ethiopians continue to struggle, particularly in the realm of maternal and child health. However, the past twenty years of Ethiopia’s history remains hopeful and inspirational, not only for the country’s future but also as an example of the change that is possible. The impact of these organizations on the situation in Ethiopia should serve as a reminder of the potential for positive change.

– Madeline Lyons
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is set to become the first low-income sub-Saharan African country to achieve one of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals of eliminating poverty by 2030. Tremendous efforts have been made to reduce poverty in Ethiopia. The poverty rate fell from 44 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2018. An estimated four Ethiopians escape poverty every minute. Infrastructure developments and continued growth in the agriculture and service sectors helped bolster the nation’s economy and improve living conditions for its people.

Extensive Infrastructure Developments Underway

The Government of Ethiopia (GOE) has been heavily involved in the development of its economy. Infrastructure projects, such as roads, national parks, power production and distribution, airports and railways have bolstered growth and created jobs. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway is a major international railway inaugurated in 2018 that runs from the capital, Addis Ababa, to the port city of Djibouti. The railway remains an important mode of transportation for passengers and freight. Aschale Tesfahun, a political science lecturer at Dire Dawa University, noted that “[his] life has become easier because of this train, but it’s also a major advantage for all Ethiopia.”

Even external investors, such as Zhang Huarong, find developing African countries like Ethiopia to be lucrative opportunities. Huarong emigrated from China to create a shoe business in Ethiopia. He employs more than 7,500 locals who produce footwear for companies such as Guess and Nine West. His goal is to create 100,000 jobs for Ethiopians. External investors providing jobs for the local population is one way of indirectly reducing poverty in Ethiopia. China has created more than three million jobs on the African continent in markets such as manufacturing, trade, real estate, services and construction.

Energy Sector

Another important contributor to Ethiopia’s real GDP increase is energy production and distribution, which has averaged about ten percent growth between 2006 and 2018. Ethiopia struggles to provide electricity as its population is more than 100 million people. The nation is creating more hydropower plants to keep up with the fast-growing economy and plans to increase power production from 4,500 MW to 5,000 MW by 2022. About 90 percent of power in Ethiopia is generated from hydropower plants.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been under construction since 2011 and is expected to be the largest dam in Africa. The power source will generate 6,450 MW of electricity and functions as a major factor in the economic growth of Ethiopia. It is also anticipated to export 400 MW of electricity to Tanzania and 400 MW to Kenya. About 30 percent of Ethiopians have access to electricity, yet the dam and several hydropower projects will provide a larger portion of the country with power.

Model for Successful Development

Ethiopia serves as an excellent model to other impoverished countries for poverty reduction and successful economic development. Poverty in Ethiopia was sliced in half within 20 years. Infrastructure developments and external investors, particularly China, have furthered its progress in improving its economy and progressing with 1.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals—reducing poverty.

Other developing African countries could learn from the failures and successes Ethiopia has endured while becoming a leader in Africa’s development and innovation. For example, Ethiopian Airlines is the fastest growing and most profitable passenger and cargo carrier in Africa. The airline expresses that infrastructure development is a main driver in developing an economy, especially when there is room for growth. Former head of the U.N. office in Ethiopia, Eugene Owusu, stated that Ethiopia’s fast development “reflects the bold ambition and the political commitment of the leadership.”

Final Challenge

The last challenge Ethiopia faces is transitioning from an agricultural-based economy to an industrial-based economy. Although the idea is simple, execution sometimes includes decades of evolving and continued external investment from investors that might be blind or wary to potential future profitability. Structural changes to the Ethiopian economy are necessary for further progress in reducing poverty in Ethiopia. With government initiatives, such as improving access to clean water and sanitation services, the economy will continue to grow and eliminate poverty in Ethiopia.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

Coding in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is primarily an agricultural country, with more than 80 percent of its citizens living in rural areas. More than 108.4 million people call Ethiopia home, making it Africa’s second-largest nation in terms of population. However, other production areas have become major players in Ethiopia’s economy. As of 2017, Ethiopia had an estimated gross domestic product of $200.6 billion with the main product coming from other sources than agriculture.

Today, 1.2 million Ethiopians have access to fixed telephone lines, while 62.6 million own cell phones. The country broadcasts six public TV stations and 10 public radio shows nationally. 2016 data showed that over 15 million Ethiopians have internet access. While 15 percent of the population may not seem significant, it is a sharp increase in comparison to the mere one percent of the population with Internet access just two years prior.

Coding in Ethiopia: One Girl’s Success Story

Despite its technologically-limited environment, young tech-savvy Ethiopians are beginning to forge their own destiny and pave the way for further technological improvements. One such pioneer is teenager Betelhem Dessie. At only 19, Dessie has spent the last three years traveling Ethiopia and teaching more than 20,000 young people how to code and patenting a few new software programs along the way.

On her website, Dessie recounts some of the major milestones she’s achieved as it relates to coding in Ethiopia:

  • 2006 – she got her first computer
  • 2011- she presented her projects to government officials at age 11
  • 2013-she co-founded a company, EBAGD, whose goals were to modernize Ethiopia’s education sector by converting Ethiopian textbooks into audio and visual materials for the students.
  • 2014-Dessie started the “codeacademy” of Bahir Dar University and taught in the STEM center at the university.

United States Collaboration

Her impressive accomplishments continue today. More recently, Dessie has teamed up with the “Girls Can Code” initiative—a U.S. Embassy implemented a project that focuses on encouraging girls to study STEM. According to Dessie, “Girls Can Code” will “empower and inspire young girls to increase their performance and pursue STEM education.”

In 2016, Dessie helped train 40 girls from public and governmental schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia how to code over the course of nine months. During those nine months, Dessie helped her students develop a number of programs and projects. One major project was a website where students can, according to Dessie, “practice the previous National examinations like SAT prep sites would do.” This allows students to take practice tests “anywhere, anytime.” In 2018, UNESCO expanded a similar project by the same name to include all 10 regions in Ghana, helping to make technology accessible to more Africans than ever before.

With the continuation of programs like “Girls Can Code” and the ambition of young coders everywhere, access to technology will give girls opportunities to participate in STEM, thereby closing the technology gender gap in developing countries. Increased STEM participation will only serve to aid struggling nations in becoming globally competitive by boosting their education systems and helping them become more connected to the world in the 21st century.

– Haley Hiday
Photo: Flickr

Technologies For Everyday Tasks in Developing CountriesIn countries with poor economies, there’s often no way for people with low income to get access to essential amenities or conveniences. Whether the lack of electricity, water, or basic information regarding crops and harvest times, problems are widespread and varied. But people continue to find solutions that are simple and affordable when it seems there are no options. Here are some examples of simple, useful technologies for everyday tasks in developing countries and communities.

9 Technologies For Everyday Tasks in Developing Countries

  1. Sproxil provides an online, easy to access verification method for pharmacies and drug sellers. Counterfeit drugs are a big problem in developing countries, with few ways to check for quality. Sproxil works with factories, providing easy to check codes on genuine shipments. A seller can simply verify the code through Sproxil’s app to ensure the quality of delivered drugs.
  2. EthioSIS is an information gathering and mapping system devoted to soil quality. It has mapped out soil quality in several areas in Ethiopia with the intent to provide accurate information to farmers and government officials. This is accomplished using satellite technology.
  3. BRCK is a compact, low cost, durable router. Built by a company operating in Nairobi, there have been several iterations of this technology in order to bring the internet to every corner of the continent. The same company has created Moja, a free wifi platform accessed through a BRCK and the KIO tablet.
  4. An effective solution to a localized problem, UTEC created a billboard that filters and cleans polluted air. Located near its campus in Peru, it stands in an area where air pollution is a constant, extreme problem. The billboard does the work of many trees, many times over, the billboard itself advertises an engineering education.
  5. Of these nine technologies for everyday tasks in developing countries, GravityLight may be the most universally useful. GravityLight is a simple concept for providing light to houses that don’t have electricity. A generator attached to a chain holds weight. The weight winched up on the chain turns the generator as it descends, providing electric power to a small light, usually enough for 20 minutes. Easy to use and re-use, it can be hung from a wall or ceiling anywhere.
  6. The SeabinV5 (version 5) is the brainchild of the Seabin project. This trashcan has a built-in pump, designed to filter out trash from ocean water. The floating SeabinV5 adjusts to oil-absorbing pads and requires easy cleaning.  The electrical cost of maintaining the pump is equivalent to $1 a day.
  7. The Beacon app acts as a search and rescue in local areas. Rescue agencies launch a unique platform, kept up to date about their area of coverage. In areas without a consistent or fast ambulance presence, it can organize and bring together first responders quickly, which is invaluable for smaller communities.
  8. The Hippo Water Roller does not actually take the shape of a hippo. Rather, the water container is cylindrical with a large handle for rolling, either by pushing or pulling. In many smaller communities, getting fresh water often means traveling several miles and carrying it back with a bucket. The Hippo Roller’s ability to transport water easily is invaluable to these communities.
  9. The Bandicoot is a robot designed for sewer cleaning in India. The hazardous waste it is designed to clean and dispose of is very harmful to humans. Also, it takes a human worker two hours to properly clean an area the Bandicoot can cover in forty-five minutes. The robot is so simple to operate and maintain, that those whose job it was previously to clean the sewers can now operate the Bandicoot.

Technologies for everyday tasks in developing countries must be simple, affordable and able to spread easily. These are only a few examples of evolving tech that brings the world closer to ending global poverty. Creative thinking towards a small scale problem can lead to massive changes on a global scale.

– Mason Sansonia
Photo: Flickr

The Women Entrepreneurship Development ProjectThe Women Entrepreneurship Development Project (WEDP) aims to provide more opportunities for female entrepreneurs. The International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank is continually funding more than $2 million to women in Ethiopia looking to start or improve their businesses.

The program’s contributions are improving the Ethiopian economy and the empowerment of women. It is one of the only women-focused lines of credit operations in the world and has been the most effective.

Signs of Progress

To date, more than 12,000 female entrepreneurs have received loans from the IDA. Of this, 66 percent are first-time borrowers; yet, 99.1 percent of the loans have been repaid.

Additionally, 16,000 women have participated in business training thus far. On the other hand, firms participating in the WEDP are experiencing growing incomes. In comparison to those not working with the program, income has increased by 40.77 percent. With increasing profit, these firms are able to expand employment by 55.73 percent.

Giving Women Entrepreneurs a Feasible Option

The Women Entrepreneurship Development Project’s success can largely be accredited to having “missing middle” loans. In many instances, banks require a minimum of a $50,000 loan and microfinance options are at most $5,000. These requirements make it nearly impossible for female entrepreneurs to get a loan suitable for their business.

The WEDP provides an average loan of $12,500 and has successfully reduced the collateral from 200 percent to 125 percent. The IDA saw an untapped market and is now profiting off of the potential for these entrepreneurs to expand their businesses.

Project Initiatives

Another reason why the Women Entrepreneurship Development Project is succeeding is due to the specific and goal-oriented plan of the World Bank. The objective in Ethiopia is to improve both earnings and employment of female-owned Micro and Small Enterprise’s (MSE).

The most common obstacle businesses face in Ethiopia is access to finance. In fact, only 40.4 percent of these owners have access. As a result, the project focuses on ensuring easy finance options and offering unique financial instruments that fit the needs of each business.

It is also useful that the project offers programs to teach entrepreneurial and technical skills. The World Bank aims for access to microfinance and a dedicated line of credit, development of entrepreneurial skills, technology and cluster development and, project management, advocacy and outreach, monitoring and impact evaluation.

Partnerships and Impacts

Without partnerships with the Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the U.K., Italy and Japan, the success of the WEDP would not be possible. Many countries and agencies have offered financing or other assistance contributing to the rise of female-owned business in Ethiopia.

Not only has the Women Entrepreneurship Development Project been hugely successful in Ethiopia, but it is also inspiring initiatives to finance female-owned companies in countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia. Should these countries follow suit, the impact could be unprecedented.

Even though the project has a few more months until its completion, it is providing an opportunity for the government of Ethiopia to support the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) of women entrepreneurs.

– Jessica Haidet
Photo: Flickr

Land Seizures in EthiopiaEthiopia is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, with a growth rate of nearly 10.4% from 2004 to 2018. Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) has focused on public infrastructure and economic modernizations. The Ethiopian government has encouraged foreign investment in recent years and the construction of industrial parks throughout the country, though land seizures in Ethiopia, especially in Oromia and Tigray, have become common for acquiring space for the developments.

Displacement of Farmers

In order to realize its economic goals, the government has appropriated vast amounts of highly fertile land in the southern region of Oromia and converted it for foreign agribusiness. Dutch, Israeli and Indian companies have gravitated to Ethiopia because of cheap and fertile land. This has created tension in the region as local farmers have been forcibly displaced from their lands in favor of these foreign agribusinesses, many of which sell decorative flowers or pharmaceutical plants. These companies have generally taken the best, the most fertile and the most easily irrigated land in the Oromia region, displacing many farmers.

Most of these farmers, belonging to the Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups, which make up more than 50% of the population and are the largest ethnicities in Ethiopia, claim that they were forcibly dispossessed of their land by the local government, even as the government claims that it followed all necessary protocols. These land seizures in Ethiopia have led to numerous protests and demonstrations throughout Ethiopia where development has occurred, largely because few of the jobs that were created went to locals. The focus on non-food agribusiness instead of crop production has exacerbated the food crisis in the country, which originally stemmed in part from droughts plaguing eastern Africa since 2015, as well as the 2018 floods.

In Oromia, at the Adama Industrial Park, heavy machinery and textiles are produced for export. This industrial park was one of the first to be opened in the fall of 2018, and it began its first exports in December 2018.

Land Seizures in Ethiopia Aren’t Confined to Oromia

In the north of the country, there is widespread industrialization, and the government has also been pushing for industrial projects, such as the mine established by the Chinese company Tibet Huayu Mining in association with Canada’s East Africa Metals Inc., meant to prospect and mine for gold in Tigray’s largely untapped mineral fields. Pepsi has also heavily invested in the Tigray region, with a bottling factory near the capital of Mekele. Garment factories, as well as a Turkish industrial manufacturer, have also agreed to set up facilities in and around Tigray as well.

Besides the Adama and Mekelle industrial parks, seven others, including two near Addis Ababa, have opened or are under construction as part of the government’s economic policies.

Evictions are not limited to agricultural areas. In several areas, particularly around Addis Ababa, long-standing towns are being declared as illegal settlements, and the government has described this policy as an attempt to regularize development and bring urban planning and local infrastructure up to international standards.

Why Is This a Problem?

Ethiopia’s industrialization is highly focused on foreign investment. The Ethiopian government has sacrificed long-term growth prospects for the much more lucrative but short-term opportunities of foreign investors, largely ignoring indigenous industrial and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Currently, the government does little for those displaced by industrial development. Land tenure and property rights laws are inadequately and unevenly enforced. Whenever there is a legal framework in place, often it is neither easy nor advantageous for the dispossessed. The average farmer in Ethiopia holds only about 1.2 hectares of land, and just over half of Ethiopia’s farmers subside on less than 1 hectare. Currently, there are plans to develop over 100,000 hectares of land through 2025. Nationally, this will displace hundreds of thousands of farmers and their families, many of whom will be poorly compensated through irregular processes.

As it currently stands, the Ethiopian constitution protects the nominal right of the citizen to private property, while simultaneously permitting the uncompensated land seizures in Ethiopia for the purpose of resource exploitation because these lands “shall not be subject to sale or to other means of exchange” in Article 40(3). This creates a situation in which the government can forcibly relocate a landowner from his property if it so desires while being obligated to pay only a token price.

What is Being Done?

There is international aid that has been helping to ensure that Ethiopians are able to take advantage of the opportunities that the GTP is designed to provide. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization has a program to combat high youth unemployment rates in rural populations.

The World Bank has also identified that greater educational opportunities need to be available in rural communities in order to help people transition away from agricultural sectors while increasing the productivity of those that remain economically sustainable levels. The World Bank’s plans include increasing agricultural efficiency and crop yields while steering those it can toward education and training to ensure they can participate in a modern workforce.

The high growth of Ethiopia’s economy, particularly in regard to foreign investment, has led to greater economic scrutiny of the country. The International Trade Unions Confederation has criticized the low wages that make Ethiopia so appealing to many foreign investors.

There is also a possibility of reform, as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister has expressed an interest in democratizing and liberalizing the country. It is possible that this could lead to constitutional reforms that fight land seizures in Ethiopia and provide more equitable compensation to any who are still relocated. Of course, this will take time.

– John Dolan
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Girls' Education in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is located in sub-Saharan Africa just west of Somalia. Poverty levels have been decreasing in the country since the early 2000s, but the female education levels are still struggling to raise their percentages. The main cause of the female dropout rate, menstruation, is high in pre-teen and early teen ages. Approximately one in ten girls in Ethiopia and sub-Sahara Africa as a whole begin missing school during their menstruation cycles. The total amount of days missed adds up to an average of around twenty percent of the school year. Girls miss school during this time because of lack of access to proper menstruation hygiene products. Many girls drop out during this time while those who stay struggle to keep up in their studies. Because of this, one company aims to protect girls’ education in Ethiopia.

Stigma Attached with Menstruation

The UNICEF records that the topic of a women’s menstruation is not taught in most schools and girls do not talk with each other about it, either. Along with these factors, sanitary hygiene for women is expensive or unavailable, and more than half of Ethiopian women do not have access to the necessary menstrual supplies needed to manage their periods. Instead, most girls use dried grass or rags to deal with their periods.

Dignity Period and Freweini Mabrahtu

The company advocating practically for girls’ education in Ethiopia is called Dignity Period. Its founders are Dr. Lewis Wall and his wife. The company receives its products from the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory, which is run by Freweini Mebrahtu. Mebrahtu designed a fully washable pad that can last up to two years and costs around ninety percent less than a year’s worth of disposable pads. The pads have cotton linings and waterproof backings, and they are secured to underwear with a small button and come in a discreet package that folds securely to keep them clean. Mebrahtu claims that in Ethiopia, most girls do not speak of their periods because it is considered a taboo subject and is particularly shameful.

Education on Menstruation

Not only does Mebrahtu run the factory that produces these reusable pads, but she also educates students on women’s menstruation. Her goal is to defeat the stigma around a women’s period so that girls can feel comfortable and safe about their bodies’ natural processes. Mebrahtu also educates boys for this reason. She holds an educated gathering of students at school where she teaches boys and girls about the naturalness of a woman’s period. Afterward, Mebrahtu teaches individual girls how to use the pads and keep themselves clean during their periods.

Changing the ways in which society thinks about a woman’s period is how Dignity Period is influencing girls’ education in Ethiopia. Mebrahtu wants girls to no longer feel ashamed about their body’s natural processes and to give them the freedom and ability to stay in school and be able to achieve their dreams.

– Chelsea Wolfe
Photo: Flickr

Food Security in EthiopiaFood security in Ethiopia is largely dependent on climate. This is what makes the 2011 Horn of Africa drought so devastating. The drought left 4.5 million Ethiopians in need of emergency food aid. Another drought in 2017 hit, putting another 8.5 million at-risk of hunger. In efforts to combat Ethiopia’s food insecurity, five organizations are working to provide various forms of food aid.

5 Organizations Working to Improve Food Security in Ethiopia

  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
    In recent years, the FAO has been collaborating with the Ethiopian Government to execute the Country Programming Framework (CPF). The CPF is a 5-year program to address crop production, livestock and fisheries, and sustainable natural resource management to combat food insecurity. In the case of crop production, crop productivity per unit of land is low due to pests, diseases, as well as the limited use of crop-boosting technologies. In response, the FAO has promoted the use of crop intensification, diversification and pest management practices.
  2. TechnoServe
    TechnoServe has been working to help Ethiopians increase the production of food and cash-based crops. This work is especially helpful for small landholders who make up 95 percent of Ethiopia’s agricultural GDP. TechnoServe’s impact involves teaching farmers techniques such as intercropping maize with beans to increase productivity. The nonprofit is also aiding forest-coffee producers to gain access to premium markets, which offer higher prices for their products. The coffee grown in the Gabrebeco Forest is not only distinct in taste from other brands, but it also serves as an important source of income for impoverished communities. However, this coffee is often sold as a low-grade bulk product, limiting the economic power of Ethiopians. This Coffee Initiative, however, is estimated to save 150,000 hectares of the forest and allow 10,000 farmers to earn higher incomes, mitigating Ethiopia’s food insecurity.
  3. USAID
    USAID’s Feed the Future initiative which focuses on helping the vulnerable gain access to markets. The plan has three main focuses: growth based food security, helping the vulnerable access markets and implementing economic regulations. To do so, USAID is looking to increase the value of products such as maize, wheat, coffee, sesame, chickpea, honey, potato, livestock and poultry. Feed the Future is also working to kickstart enterprises by providing access to both technical and credit support. Again, USAID’s initiative would not only increase the food supply but also improve the economic status of Ethiopians to purchase food as well.
  4. The Hunger Project
    In efforts to help, the Hunger Project developed the Epicenter Strategy to mobilize Ethiopians so that they may meet their own needs. The Epicenter Strategy involves the establishment of epicenters, a coalition of 5,000 to 15,000 people who work to become leaders and initiate change on a local level. In addition to leadership skills, Ethiopians learn about nutrition, improved farming methods, micro-financing, as well as water and sanitation. Epicenters also provide information on composting and environmentally sound irrigation methods like drip irrigation. All of these will help to improve agricultural output and increase food security.
  5. Farm Africa
    Farm Africa has led several climate-smart based agriculture methods. For instance, many farmers tend to rely on rainfall as a source of water for their crops. However, this method is unreliable given the droughts the nation has faced. In response, Farm Africa has provided small farmers with water lifting motor pumps, giving farmers a year-round supply of water. In addition, droughts decrease the available food supply for livestock. To protect the surrounding land, Farm Africa has also been encouraging the implementation of rangeland management cooperatives. Doing so also helps farmers to work with local government officials to develop long-term resource management plans.

While there is still much more work to be done, each of these organizations has made great strides in addressing food security in Ethiopia.

– Iris Goa
Photo: Pixabay

Top 5 facts about the Neven Subotic FoundationIn Ethiopia, there are more than 61 million people without access to safe water and even more without access to sanitation. Women and children often walk more than three hours to collect water, typically from wells or ponds that they have to share with animals.

Famous Serbian football player, Neven Subotic, has founded the Neven Subotic Foundation that works on projects focused on supplying this basic human right to as many people as possible in Ethiopia. Here are the top five facts about the Neven Subotic Foundation.

Top 5 Facts About the Neven Subotic Foundation

  1. Neven Subotic, together with a handful of volunteers, began the process of giving access to clean water to as many people as possible. This was the beginning of a life-long project that would soon develop into the Neven Subotic Foundation in 2012.
  2. 100 percent of the proceeds the Neven Subotic Foundation raises goes toward water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. The organization is focused on building wells and sanitary facilities in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. The foundation currently has 121 projects in progress and 116 projects have already been realized. As much as 59 wells were built in municipalities. In an effort to provide clean and sanitary water to students, the organization built 57 wells in schools, with sanitary facilities included.
  3. The Foundation recognizes that in many vulnerable communities, girls and young women carry the burden of fetching water every day for their families. This process often takes several hours per day, preventing many girls from attending school. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the water sources will be safe for drinking and other uses.
  4. There are four steps that the Neven Subotic Foundation utilizes in order to achieve 100 percent WASH.
    • Research. This phase lasts anywhere from six to nine months and involves assessing the most effective solutions for the proposed community or school. The Foundation also utilizes hydrologists and water authorities to locate the ideal spot for a new well.
    • Planning. It can take between nine and 12 months for costs to be analyzed and donations to be procured for the projects. Materials are purchased and teams and technicians are hired for the job.
    • Implementation. The penultimate step lasts between 12 and 15 months. The drilling team drills until they find clean water, a technician installs a pump and the community is trained on sustainable use of the well.
    • Monitoring and reporting. This process can take anywhere from 15 to 18 months. The project leads double check the work three times and the location of the well is accurately logged. Continued discussions are held with the community about the importance, as well as the impact, of these facilities.
  5. The Foundation has more than 6,000 individual donors who play their role in providing clean water access. Thanks to their generous contributions, continued focus is being placed on innovation. For example, the organization has launched a new competition for engineers in which they work to develop solutions for the construction of latrines, in a partnership with SimScale, a simulation company.

The Neven Subotic Foundation not only works to provide 100 percent WASH to the people in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, but the organization also promotes education. When the Foundation builds wells for communities and schools, they are offering opportunities for children — especially girls — to attend school instead of having to walk miles to unsanitary water sources.

– Simone Edwards
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid Helps Ethiopia

Though Ethiopia is still one of the world’s poorest countries, its poverty rate has been cut in half. Initially, more than 50 percent of the population living below the poverty line. This has since been reduced to about 25 percent. In the last 20 years, Ethiopia’s gross domestic product has risen from $8 billion to $80 billion. How did the once third-poorest country in the world do this?

Highly dependent on foreign aid, Ethiopia has received $3.5 billion in assistance in recent years from countries like Germany and the United Kingdom. The United States recently launched a 5-year, $40 million program, the Health Financing Improvement Program. This U.S. launched this program to invest in increasing Ethiopia’s ability to provide quality and affordable health care to its citizens. And it’s a prime example of how foreign aid helps Ethiopia. This investment will improve efforts to support maternal health, AIDS prevention and care, malaria treatment, nutrition and WASH. Programs like this have helped Ethiopia’s poverty rate fall from 44 percent to 30 percent in just over 10 years.

Below are some ways investment and foreign aid helps Ethiopia reduce extreme poverty.

Fast-Growing Economy

Many people think of Ethiopia as a country riddled with poverty. However, Ethiopia possesses one of the fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa as of 2018. In the last decade alone, Ethiopia witnessed an average economic growth of 10 percent. This growth is due to public investments in infrastructure, agriculture and education, combined with foreign aid.

Agriculture

Forty-three percent of Ethiopia’s gross domestic product comes from agriculture. Foreign aid helps Ethiopia and its agriculture sector through different programs. Feed the Future is one such program, focusing on food security and connecting vulnerable peoples to markets. Other ways foreign aid helps Ethiopia is through strengthening sustainable natural resources and watershed management, adapting to climate change and improving food and nutrition security.

Health

Foreign aid also improves health Ethiopia, which struggles with nutrition and disease. Improvements in the health sector include slashing the mortality rate of children under five by two-thirds. Similarly, between 2004 and 2017, AIDS-related deaths have dropped from 83,000 to 15,000. This focus on health reduced the fertility rate from 7.0 to 4.6 children per woman between the years 1995 and 2011. This is crucial because high fertility rates contribute to stillbirth and mortality rates. While nutrition and food security are still problems in Ethiopia, malnourishment fell from 75 percent to 35 percent from the 1990s to 2012.

Education

According to the World Bank, Ethiopia was one of the most educationally disadvantaged countries in the 20th century. This was mostly due to low access to schooling. But with the help of foreign aid, Ethiopia’s primary school enrollment rates have doubled over 10 years. Foreign aid has improved curriculum, teaching, school inspections and teaching methods. Additionally, Ethiopia has seen an improvement in the number of textbooks and other materials available.

During the creation of the United States Agency for International Development, former President John F. Kennedy said, “There is no escaping our obligations: our moral obligations as a wise leader and good neighbor in the interdependent community of free nations – our economic obligations as the wealthiest people in a world of largely poor people, as a nation no longer dependent upon the loans from abroad that once helped us develop our own economy – and our political obligations as the single largest counter to the adversaries of freedom.”

And this statement still holds true today. Powerful countries like the U.S. and China prosper, but countries like Ethiopia are still disadvantaged. Foreign aid helps Ethiopia, improving many lives, but there is always room for improvement.

Andrea Rodriguez
Photo: Flickr