Information and stories about Ethiopia

Tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa
As tuberculosis (TB) kills more than a million people each year, a new strategy to detect the disease has emerged: using rats to identify TB positive samples. TB remains the world’s deadliest disease, infecting 10 million and killing 1.5 million people in 2018. Tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa is also the main cause of death for people living with HIV.

In Mozambique, where 13.2% of the population has HIV, more than half of the people with TB also have HIV. Along with malnutrition and other diseases, HIV reduces resistance to TB, so people living in poverty are especially susceptible to TB. Those experiencing poverty are also more likely to have fewer healthcare options and spend most of their lives in overcrowded conditions and poorly ventilated buildings where TB can easily spread. However, TB is treatable; it just needs to be caught in time. APOPO, a Belgian NGO, works to detect tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa by training rats to sniff it out.

How Can Rats Detect Tuberculosis?

For nine months, African giant pouched rats are trained to sniff out TB from samples of sputum — the mucus produced from coughs. Much like the Pavlov’s dog theory, trainers condition rats to associate the sound of a click with a reward; the rats only hear a click and receive a reward when they interact with TB positive samples. The rats have to hold their snouts over the sample for two to three seconds to indicate the positive sample. To “graduate” and become heroRATS — the official name for APOPOs rats — the rats go through a testing process where they have to detect every TB positive sample among rows of sputum.

Since 2007, APOPO has partnered with local clinics that send potential TB samples for the rats to check. Health clinics perform smear microscopy tests that often come up negative when they are actually positive. The heroRATS help to correct this problem by accurately identifying the TB positive samples. Their detection rats can check up to 100 TB samples in 20 minutes while the same task might take a lab technician up to four days. After the APOPO lab confirms the TB samples tested by the rats (using WHO methods), they alert the clinic about the results. So far, the rats have screened 580,534 TB samples and prevented 126,375 potential TB infections, raising TB detection rates of partner clinics by 40%.

The Relationship Between TB and Poverty

When medical professionals are unable to detect tuberculosis and treat it in time, the disease can augment poverty rates, making living conditions even worse for people who have it. Because TB is highly contagious, those with the disease are not allowed to go to work or school, leading to a loss of income and education. The stigma surrounding TB is also detrimental; people are often excluded from the community, so they can no longer rely on support from previous outlets. APOPO’s work to increase the TB test’s accuracy and speed helps those infected to know their correct results and then seek more immediate treatment.

Progress Detecting Tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa

The three main countries APOPO operates in  — Tanzania, Mozambique and Ethiopia —  are all considered high burden TB countries.

  • Tanzania: Tanzania has one of the highest TB burdens in the world at approximately 295 TB cases per 10,000 adults. With a poverty rate of 49.1%, almost half of Tanzanians are susceptible to TB’s spread. To help alleviate the effects of this disease, APOPO began in Tanzania in 2007 and has since expanded to 74 collaborating clinics across the country. A new testing facility in Dar es Salaam opened in 2016 and delivers results to clinics in 24 hours. Along with increasing accuracy, the APOPO facilities and rats boost the TB detection rate to around 35%.

  • Mozambique: After its success in Tanzania, in 2012 APOPO developed programs in Mozambique, where approximately 62.9% of the population lives in poverty. In partnership with Eduardo Mondlane University, APOPO built a new testing facility on the university’s grounds in Maputo. This center works with 20 local healthcare clinics and delivers results in 24 hours, which increases the probability of the patient starting treatment because it reduces the time and effort it takes to track down a patient to inform them of the results. Due to this partnership, the TB detection rate has increased by 53%.

  • Ethiopia: With a 30.8% poverty rate, Ethiopia ranks 10th for the highest TB burden in the world. To help identify these cases, APOPO is currently building a detection facility with the Armauer Hansen Research Institute. Additionally, this center will not only partner with clinics in Addis Ababa to test for TB, but will also screen up to 52,000 prison inmates and staff located in 35 prisons across Ethiopia. At the clinics, the goal is to increase identified TB cases by 35% while developing its program to create a long term impact in Ethiopia.

Armed with its innovative thinking — and its heroRATS — APOPO is making progress in detecting tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa and limiting its spread.

Zoë Padelopoulos
Photo: Flickr

Though many areas of Africa are developing thoroughly and implementing infrastructure, food security still remains an issue. Internal displacement, environmental factors and price fluctuations in countries like Ethiopia can be devastating. Predictions from the Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Plan estimated that about 8.1 million people became victims of food insecurity in 2019. Additionally, although about 2.2 million people have been internally displaced in Ethiopia as of May 2019, government operations allowed for the return of approximately 1.8 million people to their areas of origin. These seven facts about hunger in Ethiopia will give an overview of both the issues facing the country and the measures being taken to provide a solution to the food shortages.

7 Facts Concerning Hunger in Ethiopia

  1. In 2019, there were about 8 million people in Ethiopia that needed some form of aid or assistance. Of that total, approximately 4.2 million were children. Not everyone could be reached, however. The aid supplied in 2019 was only projected to reach about 3.8 million people, 2 million of which were children.
  2. Seasonal rains are often delayed in the Ethiopian region, which can lead to drought. Much of the affected population are subsistence farmers and are, therefore, unable to grow crops during this time. Insufficient rainfall to meet standards for crops occurs often, and as recently as the 2017 rainy season. The BBC estimates that droughts can cause the yield for crops to decrease to only 10% of what is expected for a regular season.
  3. Cultural biases, including those towards males, make the challenges already faced by the general population heightened for women and children. Because resources are traditionally directed towards men first, approximately 370,000 women and children in Ethiopia are in need of dire aid due to issues like severe acute malnutrition.
  4. To cope with the hunger crisis in their country, many Ethiopians have been forced to sell some of their assets. Traditionally, respite for Ethiopians is found through selling cattle for a decent sum. However, due to the prices of cattle falling during a famine, families are forced to forfeit their houses, gold, and even their land.
  5. An estimated $124 million was required to adequately serve and protect Ethiopians from hunger and famine in 2019. Due to the novel coronavirus and other health issues arising, these numbers could rise in the wake of the pandemic. Serving the healthcare sector directly benefits the issue of hunger as well.
  6. Organizations like World Vision, Food for Peace (FFP) from USAID and Mercy Corps are acting throughout Ethiopia to provide the necessary resources for surmounting the famine. Investigations and studies of the government’s safety net are being conducted to ensure the safety of the citizens in the future should famines arise again. Additionally, consortiums are periodically being held to provide food assistance to those Ethiopians facing acute food insecurity.
  7. Mercy Corps specifically recognizes education as a barrier to effectively fight famine and poverty in general. The organization’s efforts are concentrated on diversifying the prospective methods of financial gain for Ethiopians so that droughts will not completely wipe out their only source of income. Additionally, the organization is working in health-related facilities around Ethiopia to educate workers on the treatment of malnutrition.

Though Ethiopia has struggled to meet the needs of its people with regards to food supply in the past, current aid and education from foreign nations are assisting in the ultimate goal to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. The issue of hunger in Ethiopia is an immense one to tackle, but with work to develop and improve agricultural techniques for individual farmers, the country can collectively improve the situation.

– Pratik Koppikar
Photo: World Vision

Homeless Children in Ethiopia Ethiopia, especially in its capital city of Addis Ababa, is experiencing a growing homelessness crisis. Young adults and children leave the countryside to try and find work and education in the country’s urban areas, but the cost of living and housing is often unaffordable. Here are seven facts about homeless children in Ethiopia.

7 Facts about Homeless Children in Ethiopia

  1. Forty-two percent of Addis Ababa’s homeless population is under the age of 18. An official survey in 2010 counted 12,000 homeless children in Addis Ababa alone but some NGOs have estimated that the number is much higher.
  2. Family problems are cited as one of the main reasons that children leave their homes and end up living on the streets. Approximately 46% of street children in Ethiopia live with people other than their birth parents because of death, divorce, or separation.
  3. Residential shelters exist for homeless children in Ethiopia, but they must pay their way into them and continue to make money in order to stay there. Shelters are small and fit fewer than 20 children at once. For about 20 birr (57 cents in USD) children can pay to have meals and a bed for a night. One particular shelter, Hold My Hand, has been serving at-risk homeless boys by providing them food at Addis’s largest school, Bole, or by reuniting them with lost family members. Though the shelter’s capacity is small, they have been able to reunite five families with their lost sons and continue to feed children through the Bole Project.
  4. Homeless children in Ethiopia are often exploited. Human trafficking networks have a large presence in the country’s crime rings, and often young girls that are experiencing homelessness in Ethiopia fall victim to these syndicates. Once in Addis Ababa, these girls are forced into slavery-like working conditions in domestic service. Close to 400,000 humans were trapped in slavery in 2016. Retrak Ethiopia helps businesses learn more about the people they employ and then tries to rescue homeless children in Ethiopia from human trafficking.
  5. Many homeless children experience addiction or substance abuse. Glue-sniffing is a popular form of drug abuse among homeless children in Ethiopia because the substance is inexpensive and easy to obtain on the street. Street children sniff glue in order to try and ease the pain of hunger and exposure to the elements.
  6. Ethiopia’s government does not offer any type of public funding for homeless children and has instead relied on a heavy police presence to try and contain the growing crisis in cities. One method used by the police is apprehending children and forcing them back to their hometowns, but this effort has been largely unsuccessful.
  7. Ethiopia’s newest prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has charted a new path for the way the country addresses its growing homeless youth population. His new stance is the “Children on the streets have a right to live” which is a far cry from mottos of the past like the one in 2017 that emphasized “Cleaning Addis Ababa’s streets of children.” Now, Ethiopia’s government involves more conversations with on-the-ground NGOs. Habitat for Humanity has opened an Ethiopian chapter to try and rebuild old housing units and provide new ones for the country’s homeless population. Sanitation services in Ethiopia are unavailable in 80% of urban areas, so Habitat focuses on creating communal points of access for water distribution and hygienic purposes in cities like Addis Ababa.

-Grace May
Photo: Flickr

How Can We End World Hunger?
The Borgen Project has published this article and podcast episode, “How Can We End World Hunger? Travel Expert Rick Steves Visits Guatemala and Ethiopia to Explore Answers,” with permission from The World Food Program (WFP) USA. “Hacking Hunger” is the organization’s podcast that features stories of people around the world who are struggling with hunger and thought-provoking conversations with humanitarians who are working to solve it.

 

Rick Steves is no stranger to exploration. The renowned travel expert has built his career around investigating the nooks and crannies of Europe and sharing his discoveries with curious travelers. Recently, however, Rick ventured beyond Europe to explore one of the most pressing problems of our day: the problem of global hunger. He documents his journey in a new TV special, Hunger and Hope: Lessons from Ethiopia and Guatemala.

On this episode of Hacking Hunger, we caught up with Rick to discuss what this project taught him about the challenges and innovative solutions to solving global hunger and the inspiring people and organizations (including WFP) he met along the way. Listen and discover what he found.

Click the link below to listen to Rick Steves’ views on how the world can end hunger.

 

 

Photo: Flickr

Pets in Poverty
The numbers of medical supplies and resources are always falling short in impoverished nations. With an exceedingly high demand for hospital necessities such as surgical tools, disinfectants, bandages and more, these necessities often overshadow the needs of proper health care for pets. Governments in developing countries often do not have enough resources to allocate the necessary funds to help keep pets healthy and safe. Many local administrations will often resort to inhumane methods to control the large population of roaming animals, such as shooting, poisoning or drowning. Therefore, many animal rescue organizations provide the necessary means and tools to aid these pets in poverty. Here are three animal rescue organizations helping pets in poverty.

3 Animal Rescue Organizations Helping Pets in Poverty

  1. SPCA International: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is one of the leading nonprofit animal welfare organizations in the world. One of the most important programs SPCA International is working on is the spay and neuter procedures for animals in developing countries. Spaying and neutering are important for the quality of life for pets in poverty because many owners often abandon or give away any pets that have a chance of reproducing in fear of financial burden or neglect. SPCA International supports local organizations in countries with limited resources by providing cash grants through its Shelter Support Fund and veterinary tools through its Veterinary Supply Aid program. Additionally, it provides information and awareness about the ethics and importance of spaying and neutering. Local organizations, in turn, take the resources that the SPCA International provides to set up free or low-cost clinics and campaigns so that people can access the necessary health care for their pets. These low-cost campaigns are incredibly important for pets in poverty because there are little to no veterinary clinics able to provide accessible and cost-efficient health care in many regions. By supporting these spay and neuter campaigns, SPCA International continues to strive to reduce suffering and death for millions of animals.
  2. Animal Aid Unlimited: Animal Aid Unlimited (AAU) emerged in India in 2002. Its goal is to rescue and treat animals that people find on the street and are in need of medical attention. The organization runs an animal rescue center in India that doubles as a hospital and sanctuary for street animals. It found worldwide popularity by connecting its rescues and treatments through social media. AAU has more than 5.39 million subscribers on YouTube. The organization documents its rescues and medical treatment operations in short videos that often start out with anguishing undertones but end with a happy and healthy pet. The organization helps heal many of the pets in poverty left on India’s streets to die and shares the positivity online through its growing YouTube channel. AAU connects with and inspires the global community in its current efforts to help abandoned animals on the streets.
  3. Humane Society International: The Humane Society International (HSI) provides the necessary medical supplies and education for local governments in developing countries to enact humane ways of controlling growing animal populations. The organization works with local advocates in creating charities to battle against the inhumane shootings of unowned animals in the streets. With the support of HSI, local charities such as the Homeless Animals Protection Society in Ethiopia were able to emerge and thrive. These local charities receive the support to provide free or low-cost spay and neuter programs, as well as vaccination initiatives to combat deaths that rabies caused. The majority of deaths due to rabies occur in developing nations, and the vaccination equipment and education that HSI provides save thousands of people and animals each year.

While there are challenges getting health care to pets in developing nations, these three animal rescue organizations helping pets in poverty are truly making a difference. Through their continued efforts, pets should continue to receive the support they need.

Aria Ma
Photo: Pixabay

The Ethiopian Education SystemTo the west of Somalia and the north of Kenya lies a heavily populated East African country called Ethiopia. Known as one of the least developed countries in the world, Ethiopia has been suffering. The Ethiopian education system has a correlation with the high poverty rates, which are some of the highest in the world. As the second-largest country in Africa, with a population of 105 million, extreme poverty is impacting an abundant amount of people.

Economic Conditions

Although the country had previous successes during its Civil War, it has a very politically unstable economy. This is largely due to Ethiopia’s location. The country is between some of the most politically unsound countries in the world including Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. The citizens of Ethiopia are almost always in conflict with governmental leaders. Despite this, the Ethiopian economy is the fastest-growing in the world; considering the state of the economy two decades ago and the current state, it is truly inspiring growth. In the past decade alone, the economy averaged a 10.9 percent growth annually.

Poverty in Ethiopia

Although the economy is developing rapidly, poverty rates are very high, with an income per capita of $790. Ethiopia’s poverty line sits at 24 percent. With the growing economy and developing infrastructure, that poverty rate has actually improved from 30 percent in 2011. This national development is likely to further decrease poverty rates.

According to the World Bank Ethiopian Poverty Assessment, the reductions in poverty were largely due to agricultural growth, which supports economic growth. The Assessment explains other ways that the citizens are working to improve the state of the nation and the Ethiopian education system.

The Ethiopian Education System

The Ethiopian education system still has substantial work to catch up to the nation’s economic growth rates. These high poverty rates induce greater struggles in building the Ethiopian education system. Similar to many countries that suffer from extreme poverty, poverty is severely impacting the education system in Ethiopia. According to the World Bank, Ethiopia is one of the most educationally disadvantaged countries in the world.

Although rates of educational enrollment have grown exponentially in elementary, secondary and higher education, elementary education enrollment increased from 29 percent in 1989 to 86 percent in 2015 and secondary education enrollment increased from 16 percent in 1999 to 26 percent in 2015. Further, higher education has grown from 16 universities and less than 18,000 enrolled students in 1986 to 30 universities and 352,144 enrolled in 2015. This growth outlines the growth of the Ethiopian education system.

Due to the nation’s economic growth and decreased poverty rates, more schools are likely to open, causing enrollment rates to rise. The British Council projects the number of tertiary students in the Ethiopian education system will increase by an additional 1.7 million students by 2025. Further, the World Bank stated that Ethiopia should reach lower-middle-income status by 2025. These growth rates are profoundly promising to the development of the nation.

– Sarah Mobarak
Photo: Pixabay

Treat Cattle with Diseases
More than 500 million Africans gain money to support their families through the practice of small scale farming. As a result, healthy cattle are crucial because they offer meat, milk and labor. Keeping cattle healthy is critical to farmers who are trying to earn a living. However, many farm animals die every year in Africa from preventable diseases, especially in Ethiopia, which has the largest population of livestock in Africa. VetAfrica, a mobile app that first debuted in 2014, provides tips to farmers on how to diagnose and treat cattle with diseases.

Who Does it Reach?

VetAfrica tackles diseases in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda because more than 80 percent of people in those countries work in farming. Some diseases that the app included are anaplasmosis (a disease that tick bites cause) and fasciolosis (a parasitic worm infection).

How Does it Work?

There are three main parts to the app: VetAfrica Mobile, VetAfrica Hub and VetAfrica Expert. VetAfrica Mobile gives information about disease symptoms to farms in order to educate them about how to identify them in their cattle. It also allows farmers to share data with other farmers to spread awareness and possible paths to treat cattle with diseases. VetAfrica Hub is an online website to sort and evaluate data that farmers upload to the app. Through VetAfrica Hub, farmers and health care specialists can learn about cases of cattle diseases and be aware of possible disease outbreaks. VetAfrica Expert lets medical professionals add information to the app about possible diseases.

Criticisms

One of the main criticisms of VetAfrica is that many Africans cannot use it because they may not have access to a smartphone or WiFi. To address the problem, VetAfrica creators designed the app to work offline. Proponents for VetAfrica also explain that purchasing a smartphone to use will provide various benefits to farmers outside of just saving their cattle, such as educational tools for their children.

Successes

The VetAfrica app has diagnosed more than 2,000 cases so far and 80 percent of the app’s diagnoses matched those of professional veterinarians. The app also helped farmers find quick diagnoses and treatments for their cattle, improving the quality of life and overall lifespan and productivity of their cattle. Data that uploaded to the VetAfrica database also helped spread the word about possible disease outbreaks to health care officials.

Overall, the implementation of VetAfrica to treat cattle with diseases has drastically changed the lives of East African farmers. The app provides a new perspective to farmers about cattle diseases, allowing them to be more knowledgeable and active in keeping their cattle healthy. VetAfrica, an app that is saving cattle from diseases every day has brought a newfound sense of economic prosperity to East African farmers.

Shveta Shah
Photo: Flickr

Locust Swarms in Ethiopia
Brutal locust swarms have been decimating the food supply of Ethiopia and other African nations. Over 40 percent of Ethiopia’s GDP comes from agriculture, specifically the cultivation of grains like wheat and barley. Locust swarms attack the food supply of the livestock as well, of which Ethiopians consume at a much higher standard than most developing countries. Ethiopia consumes 15 kilograms of meat annually, 50 percent of which is beef. Locust swarms plaguing East Africa have the potential to create a famine that threatens to starve the people of Ethiopia. Here are some facts regarding the locust swarm crisis in Ethiopia recently.

7 Facts About the Locust Swarm Crisis in Ethiopia

  1. The locust swarm crisis in Ethiopia threatens to plunge several Eastern countries into famine. The United Nations (U.N.) has released a call to action, asking other nations around the world to provide $76 million for relief efforts in order to spray the affected areas with insecticide. This is one of the only ways to quell this impending famine.
  2. Ethiopia is no stranger to this kind of epidemic, as a similar influx of locust swarms preyed upon nearly 100 percent of green plant cover in Northern Ethiopia back in 1954. This locust swarm, along with extreme drought that year, plunged Ethiopia into a year-long famine.
  3. The locust’s ability to fly over 150 kilometers in one day makes it a traveling crop reaper. A single locust swarm, containing 40 million locusts, can consume the amount of food required to feed 35,000 people in a single day. This is the largest locust swarm Ethiopia has faced in 25 years.
  4. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in order to monitor prime breeding locations of locusts to effectively eradicate them before a full-blown infestation comes to fruition. USAID also backs the research of naturally-occurring pest control agents over harmful chemicals.
  5. USAID aids in coordination with national authorities in order to quickly locate swarm locations so every party has the preparation to eliminate the swarms. Local farmhands and herdsmen often alert locust control staff when people have spotted locusts in a particular area, playing a primary role in the prevention of locust swarms. Locusts tend to destroy crops very quickly, so it is important for locust control staff to know whether it is necessary to intervene with the local sightings and data they collect.
  6. Biologist Arianne Cease believes that the practice of overgrazing livestock creates more severe locust swarms. The land management that farmers implement creates a humid climate that is perfect for spawning locusts. Cease says that farmers should feed crops to their livestock that are optimal for that specific animal and not for locusts. For example, locusts thrive on a high carbohydrate crop, such as the grain that farmers grow in Ethiopia, while a sheep thrives on a high protein crop. Therefore, selecting the right crop and not overgrazing can decrease the severity of swarms, according to Arianne Cease.
  7. Dr. Cease has begun working with over 1,000 Mongolian farmers at a university for agriculture in order to implement these farming strategies, all with the hope of decreasing locust swarm sizes, such as the city-sized swarm currently plaguing Ethiopia.

One locust swarm can threaten Ethiopia’s entire food security. With the right precautionary measures like selective crop growing, moderate grazing and reporting locust sightings to international and local authorities, Ethiopia and the rest of the East African nations that these swarms plague can work together to mitigate the destruction that these pesky insect swarms caused.

– William Mendez
Photo: Flickr

Coffee Farmers in Ethiopia
Coffee production in Ethiopia accounts for about 3 percent of the global market with around 20 million people relying on it for livelihood in the region. These 20 million workers only see about 15 percent of the profits from the purchase of a bag of beans. Bext360, as well as several other companies, are using blockchain and AI technology to empower farmers through fair and immediate pay, awareness of the market value and direct communication with buyers. By simplifying the coffee production industry and creating transparency through a traceable digital footprint, coffee farmers in Ethiopia can reap the benefits of their harvest in a more efficient and innovative way.

Bext360

Daniel Jones launched Bext360 in Denver in 2017. Bext360 is a Software-as-a-Service platform that allows consumers to trace products from the point of origin, providing a measurable means of accountability.

This provides transparency and efficiency, ensuring fairness to all sides. Through the use of blockchain and AI, Bext360 is revolutionizing traceability in the coffee industry, doing away with the middle-man that takes most of the gains that rightly belong to the farmers.

The Solution

Stellar is a financial tech startup that can handle a high volume of micropayments across borders that allows Bext360—in partnership with Moyee Coffee Company (that sources and roasts its beans in Ethiopia)—to produce crypto tokens that immediately and directly transfers to farmers. Moyee also adds a 20 percent premium payment to all small-holder farmers.

Coffee berry harvesters take the cherries they pick and load them into a special bin (the bextmachine) that appraises the haul while simultaneously sifting and sorting the crop. Farmers have the power to accept or deny the offer for their coffee crop through the use of mobile devices, allowing them to have more freedom and bargaining power.

Bext360 has also created a platform where photos of the coffee bean farmers are available online. This profile also shows how much they are receiving for pay and what the current market value price is. Consumers can view this online profile by scanning a QR code that pulls up the exact location of the farm, and traces the journey and price of the bean to their cup.

How Does this Help Farmers?

The machine that Bext360 created allows farmers to know the value of their crop, and avoid exploitation from coffee companies. It also gives them the knowledge and incentive to take control of the market and harvest at the right time, maximizing return profit.

Coffee farmers in Ethiopia can also have a more direct relationship with buyers. Estimates determine that farmers can have about a 40 percent increase in revenue by using the bextmachine as opposed to other typical washing stations.

Going Forward — Other Companies Involved

Other companies such as IOHK are going beyond supply chain transparency. It is pursuing development in a blockchain training course for local developers who, once graduated, will go on to create their own projects in cryptocurrency in Africa using Cardano technology. This should create even more potential for improvements in all economic sectors, not just the coffee industry.

Through the innovation and scope that blockchain allows, Moyee Coffee Company is able to leave over 300 percent more value in Ethiopia compared to other coffee companies. In May 2018, Moyee also hosted a One Million Cups Campaign in Ireland that sent over $63,448 to Ethiopia. In the future, Moyee hopes to be able to use its blockchain tech to crowd-fund upgrading equipment or building new infrastructure to ultimately improve yields and sever Ethiopia’s reliance on foreign aid in the region.

The benefits of more transparency are twofold: creating greater awareness and participation in consumers, as well as improving living conditions. Living conditions may improve through more equal pay for farmers and ultimately allowing the hard-working growers to reap the benefits of their work and be able to support themselves. It gives coffee farmers in Ethiopia more empowerment over their craft, all the way to the cup of coffee that one buys at the store.

– Laurel Sonneby
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Child Labor in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa with a population of nearly 114 million. While Ethiopia has a deep-rooted history as Africa’s oldest sub-Saharan state, it also has a long track record of devastating poverty. Financial instability has led many families to rely on their children for work, and this has put Ethiopia on the map for having one of the most catastrophic child labor problems in the world. To develop solutions to this persistent problem, it is important that people raise awareness. Here are the top 10 facts about child labor in Ethiopia.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Ethiopia

  1. Child Labor Rate: According to USAID, nearly 27 percent of Ethiopia’s youth population participates in the labor force. Ethiopia is one of many African countries suffering from widespread child labor, with the African region accounting for the highest rate of child labor in the world. The Internal Labour Organization blames these high levels of child labor on continued economic and political turmoil.
  2. World Vision Ethiopia and Education Centers: Fortunately, child labor in Ethiopia has been steadily decreasing over the last two decades. A study found that the percentage of child labor in Ethiopia decreased by 25 percent for boys and 40 percent for girls between 2000 and 2013. World Vision Ethiopia (WVE) is one nongovernmental organization contributing to these declining numbers by promoting education instead of child labor. Beginning in 1971, WVE has established education centers in Ethiopia, trained teachers, supported school attendance, enrolled children in vocational services and supported families savings plans to lessen the financial burden on their children. According to a WVE report, The Ethiopians Fighting Against Childhood Exploitation Project began in 2011. This project, which includes WVE and two other NGOs, targets 20,000 Ethiopian children by promoting childhood education and creating better social protections for children in Ethiopia.
  3. Unstable Education: The instability of Ethiopia’s education system makes it one of the major causes of child labor. Despite compulsory primary education and government-subsidized schooling, widespread economic hardship has led to low attendance rates and a lack of resources. With no quality education to turn to, vulnerable children often resort to child labor to lend financial support to their families.
  4. Demographics in Child Labor: The demographic breakdown of child labor in Ethiopia shows the lowest rate for children ages 5-9, with 48 percent of them working in the labor force. This percentage jumps to 72 percent for children ages 10-14 and 75 percent for children ages 15-17. Despite the large percentage differences between age brackets, the difference between genders is only 3 percent.
  5. The Ethiopian Government’s Efforts: In 2018, Ethiopia’s government took further steps to mitigate child labor by working with international and non-governmental organizations to combat disparities in educational resources and government oversight. Programs focused on smuggling, sex-trafficking, forced labor and children’s rights are among the new government initiatives to curtail child labor. In the same year, the National Child Policy made it onto the national agenda, offering major reforms that would commit the government, “to sustain its commitment to respect, protect and fulfill children’s rights and enhance the family and community’s role in the healthy growth and personality development of children.” While the Ethiopian government has not signed this legislation into law, the movement behind the policy is quickly gaining traction with those committed to eliminating child labor.
  6. Child Trafficking: Child trafficking is a common practice in Ethiopia, responsible for forcing children into domestic and sex work. This practice, prominent in the Capital, Addis Ababa, has seen people sell 20,000 children into the trafficking industry despite laws that prohibit the practice. The lack of enforcement involving the investigation and prosecution of child-trafficking perpetrators is the primary reason that these abuses persist.
  7. The International Labour Organisation (ILO): In 2003, Ethiopia ratified a convention that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) proposed, a United Nations Agency that dedicates itself to prohibiting and eliminating the worst forms of child labor. The convention, which recognizes poverty and inadequate education as significant barriers to eliminating child labor, led Ethiopia to distribute textbooks and build primary schools. A report by the United States Department of Labor describes Ethiopia’s progress as a “moderate advancement,” noting that, while there are still steps that Ethiopia needs to take, this is the beginning of a necessary solution.
  8. Types of Labor: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, cattle, gold and hand-woven textiles are among the most common goods that child labor in Ethiopia produces. The children participating in manufacturing textiles and gold are most prominent in urban areas, while those working in cattle herding and production are the most prominent in rural areas. In fact, cattle and farming account for 89 percent of child labor in rural areas, according to the International Labour Organisation.
  9. Hazardous Working Conditions: A study that the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) conducted reported that children in Ethiopia spent, on average, 41.4 hours a week in working conditions declared that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) declared hazardous. The ILO defines Hazardous work as, “work which, by its nature or circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of children.” The CSA concluded that this work has had detrimental effects on children’s health and school attendance in Ethiopia.
  10. A Top Country for Child Labor: According to the Maplecroft Child Labor Index, Ethiopia ranks fourth behind Bangladesh, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo on a list of the top 10 worst countries for child labor. While this number is more than devastating, the researchers who determine this ranking explain that the numbers do not include the thousands of unseen, uncounted child laborers. This gives the world an even greater reason to help bring awareness and solutions to the child labor problem plaguing Ethiopia.

While these facts about child labor in Ethiopia show that child labor has left an indelible mark on the country, new government reforms can undo much of the previous damage. The goal for future generations of Ethiopian children to live fulfilled lives that emphasize childhood education rather than childhood labor is now a real possibility.

– Aly Hill
Photo: Flickr