ECHO’s support realises a safe space for South Sudan refugee children to be children

By Charlene Thompson

Children in one of the child friendly spaces in the Kule Refugee Camp

Children in one of the child friendly spaces in the Kule Refugee Camp ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Thompson

Gambella, Ethiopia 31 October, 2014 – There’s an exciting game of volleyball being played and both the participants and spectators are intently focused on the next move. A young boy serves and the ball hits the net; he doesn’t quite get it over but the children are laughing.

It’s a scene that could have taken place on any playground, with any group of children but this game is being played in the Kule Refugee Camp in Gambella, Ethiopia and all of the children here fled the war in South Sudan. This volleyball game is being played in one of the child friendly spaces (CFS) developed by UNICEF and Plan International with the financial support of ECHO and in partnership with Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) who manage the camp.

“This child friendly space is providing a safe area for children in this camp where they can play and learn and be themselves,” said Chuol Yar, a 27 year old refugee who is one of the camp’s community child protection workers. “This is a place where they can come and feel protected and love themselves. If they cannot do this here, then we are not doing things well,” he added.

According to UNICEF, child friendly spaces are designed to support the resilience and well‐being of children and young people through community organised, structured activities conducted in a safe, child friendly, and stimulating environment. Through the partnership between UNICEF and Plan International, 31 community child protection workers (14 female and 17 male) were trained in June and are currently providing support to children in two permanent and three temporary child friendly spaces in the Kule Camp.

They received training in principles of child friendly spaces, management of child friendly spaces, developing activities for children and monitoring and response to the needs of children.

The child friendly spaces in the Kule Refugee Camp cater to children from 3-18 years of age and they provide play areas for football, volleyball, jump rope and other outdoor activities. In addition, there are traditional storytelling sessions, dramas that are performed by the children, singing, reading materials and spaces where adolescents can engage in peer discussions.

South Sudan refugee children play in child friendly centre in Gambella Ethiopia

South Sudan refugee children play in child friendly centre in Gambella Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Sewunet

The community child protection workers also visit homes in the Kule Camp to encourage parents to send their children to the child friendly spaces.

“I let the parents know all of the activities that we have in the child friendly spaces and tell them that it is a protected space where the children can play safely,” said David Riang, another community child protection worker at the refugee camp. “The parents usually agree and send the children to the child friendly spaces,” he said as his colleague Chuol quickly added “I tell them without play children cannot learn. Play is important for a child’s mental development.”

In addition to the Kule Camp, UNICEF, with the support of ECHO, is supporting child friendly spaces at the Tierkidi Camp and at the Akobo border entry point. “The children in these camps have already experienced very difficult and tragic circumstances in their short lives. The aim of these child friendly spaces is to provide a safe space where a child can come and be a child,” said Tezra Masini, Chief of the UNICEF Field Office in Gambella.

For many of the community child protection workers this experience has also provided them with the opportunity to develop skills and actively participate in supporting their community. Many are from the same regions in South Sudan and having fled war also share similar experiences with the children. They communicate with the children in their local language and tell traditional stories and social teachings of their clan.

“My dream if God is willing is to become a medical doctor and support my community,” Chuol said and it is a sentiment expressed by other community child protection workers as well. “My dream is for our children to have a better future and hopefully return home one day to a peaceful South Sudan,” noted Bigoa Kuong, a 24 year old social worker who then quickly added with a broad smile, “and also a basketball court for the children to play.”

Posted in Child Protection, ECHO, Emergencies, Gambella, HIS | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Ethiopia, a partnership to improve nutrition

By Christine Nesbitt

A joint EU-UNICEF programme reaches rural communities in Ethiopia to address undernutrition among mothers and children through monitoring, treatment and guidance.

GEMECHIS, Ethiopia, 24 August 2015 – Early in the morning, one-and-a-half-year-old Mikias Asnake laughs as his mother, Meseret Haile, bathes him at home in the Gemechis woreda (district), in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Meseret is preparing to join a community conversation at the nearby Wolargi health post, to learn how to ensure the health of children and mothers in the community.

Meseret Haile, with her son Mikias on her back, prepares food at a community information session on nutrition at the Wolargi health post, in Ethiopia's Oromia region.

Meseret Haile, with her son Mikias on her back, prepares food at a community information session on nutrition at the Wolargi health post, in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. ©UNICEF Video

Meseret and her son Mikias are among approximately a million children and 600,000 pregnant and lactating women in four African countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali and Uganda) targeted by Africa’s Nutrition Security Partnership (ANSP). In Ethiopia, the focus is on 20 woredas in the Amhara, Oromia and Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples (SNNP) regions. Ethiopia is nearing the end of a four-year national nutrition security programme supported jointly by the European Union and UNICEF, which builds on government-led efforts to reduce the rates of undernutrition among children under 5 years old and mothers.

With a population of more than 30 million people, Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region, and more than 80 per cent of its residents live in rural areas. Health Extension Worker Binti Mohammed is one of those helping to improve infant and young feeding practices, as well as maternal and adolescent nutrition.

Key aspects of the community-based nutrition programme are monthly growth monitoring and promotion, community conversations, iron folate supplementation for pregnant mothers as well as promoting local complementary food production.

Community outreach

“Before the nutrition programmes started, there was a lack of awareness in the community,” Binti says. “Some people didn’t know they could feed their children well using locally available ingredients.”

Today, the Government’s Heath Extension Programme deploys more than 36,000 health extension workers, who provide community-based health promotion and disease-prevention services, mostly to people in rural areas.

Binti explains that women bring their children to the health post on a monthly basis for growth-monitoring sessions and nutrition counselling. If the child is doing well, Binti encourages the mother to continue feeding her child properly. If the child is moderately underweight or has not gained enough weight since the previous growth-monitoring session, she will counsel the mother on possible causes and solutions. Inadequate household food security, poor child feeding practices, inadequate access to sanitation and safe water, recurring drought and harmful social and traditional practices all contribute to malnutrition in Oromia.

Health extension worker Binti Mohammed counsels a woman, who is holding her infant, on best nutrition practices

Health extension worker Binti Mohammed counsels a woman, who is holding her infant, on best nutrition practices, at the health post in the village of Wolargi, in Gemechis, a woreda (district) of Oromia Region © UNICEF/NYHQ2014-3628/Nesbitt

Changing behaviour

Reflecting on the past situation, Binti notes, “There is a big change. Previously, if their children became malnourished, people would take them to traditional healers and wait until they were close to dying. They never took them to a health facility. Now, since we saved children here at the facility, people have started bringing malnourished children from every village to the health post.”

At the Wolargi Health Post, Meseret attends the dialogue with community members exploring best practices for feeding children in their community, followed by a practical demonstration.

“We started in the morning with a community conversation, and then the health worker showed us how to prepare nutritious food for our children,” she says. “We learned that the porridge should also include vegetables, because they’re good for the child’s health.”

The ingredients of the porridge include wheat, barley, sorghum, oats, lentils, beans, groundnuts, cabbage, milk, egg, potato, carrot, beetroot, iodised salt and oil.

“My plan, starting from today, is to feed my baby in a proper way, and to keep his mind bright, and to make him a good student, to help him have a good status in society in the future,” Meseret says.

Through the community-based nutrition programme, the project supports building the resilience of communities to food insecurity. It is also designed to strengthen the community’s ability to recognise the causes of malnutrition and to take action by making better use of family, community and external support networks. Since 2011, the number of underweight children participating in the programme has been halved.

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Ethiopia: Government and humanitarian partners launched the Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD)

US$230 million urgently needed to address food and non-food needs for the remainder of the year

ETHA_2014_00151.jpg

A man tends his livestock in Sankabar Kebele in Somali region of Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ose

Addis Ababa, 24 August 2015: On 18 August, the Government of Ethiopia officially launched the joint-Government and humanitarian partners- Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) mid-year review. The document is a revision of the 2015 HRD – released on 6 March 2015 – based on the multi-agency belg/gu/ganna/sugum national needs assessment, which was concluded in early July 2015.

The mid-year review includes the addition of 1.6 million people that require relief food, increasing the number of relief food beneficiaries in 2015 to 4.5 million. This represents a 55 per cent increase from the 2.9 million people projected to require food assistance during the year.

The Government recently earmarked 700 million Ethiopian birr or US$33 million for urgent response in areas where the humanitarian situation is deteriorating most rapidly and to supplement the on-going responses.

“The belg rains were much worse than the National Meteorology Agency predicted at the beginning of the year. Food insecurity increased and malnutrition rose as a result.” said Mr. David Del Conte, UNOCHA’s acting Head of Office. The normally surplus producing areas in the Oromia region, including Arsi and West Arsi zones, are requesting relief food assistance. Water and pasture shortages decreased livestock production and caused livestock deaths in pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities. The number of woredas prioritized for nutrition interventions doubled from 49 in February to 97 in May, and the number of severely malnourished children requiring therapeutic feeding support increased by 14.4 per cent to 302,605.

“Donors have been generous,” said Ms. Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative and acting Humanitarian Coordinator. “But the situation facing us today marks a significant change in our plans, requiring the scaling up of assistance, now. We are counting on the unfailing generosity of our donor partners to meet the rising humanitarian needs,” Ms. Mellsop noted. She stressed that money spent now to respond to the food, nutrition, WASH, livelihoods and health needs, will prevent unnecessary human suffering, safeguard development and resilience gains, and mitigate costlier interventions in the future.

In the first half of 2015, half of the HRD requirements of US$386 million were funded. However, with the additional needs identified during the mid-year review, the financial requirements increased by 10.6 per cent, and US$230 million is now urgently needed to address food and non-food needs for the remainder of the year.

An on-going El Niño phenomenon may further affect the June to September kiremt rains. This may impact harvests in some areas, and cause unseasonal downpours during the last quarter of the year. “A failed belg followed by a poor kiremt season means that challenges could continue into next year,” said Mr. John Aylieff, Country Director of WFP Ethiopia. The meher harvest is the major harvest for much of the country. “With the Government in the lead, we will engage in early planning and pre-positioning of supplies to avoid any delays in response. I am hopeful that resource shortfalls will not continue to limit our operational capacity,” Mr. Aylieff noted.

In addition to food and nutrition needs, the HRD mid-year review outlines emergency requirements in the health, WASH, agriculture and education sectors. Most sectors saw their beneficiary figure increase, along with their financial requirements.

The Ethiopia Humanitarian Country Team calls on development partners and the Development Assistance Group to work together to safeguard development gains and to find durable solutions to cyclical humanitarian needs.

Posted in Drought Crisis 2015, Emergencies, Ethiopia, Press Release | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foster care and reunification efforts for separated children in Gambella refugee camps

by Monica Martinez and Nadine Tatge

Nyadiet and four foster children together with neighbors and friends in Kule refugee camp Gambella

Nyadiet and four foster children together with neighbors and friends in Kule refugee camp Gambella, Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Martinez

Gambella, Ethiopia, 22 April 2015 – Nyadiet is a 50 year old South Sudanese woman who came to Kule refugee camp two years ago when her life was at risk due to the fighting in her country.

She came on her own and the whereabouts of the rest of her family are unknown. Because Nyadiet is on her own, she volunteered to become part of the foster family scheme in Kule camp, implemented by Plan International with support from UNICEF.

For five months now, Nyadiet has been fostering four siblings that also came from South Sudan. The oldest of the four siblings is a 13 year old girl called Nygua who found the bravery to bring her three younger brothers (8, 7 and 5 years old) across the border from South Sudan to Ethiopia.

During the fighting in South Sudan, Nygua and her siblings were separated from their parents and she has not heard anything from them since they left their home. The four children are thankful for Nyadiet’s care and support and they see her as their grandmother.

Nygua and her siblings are four of over 18,000 separated and unaccompanied children currently living in Gambella refugee camps. UNICEF is supporting UNHCR and other implementing partners to identify and document cases of children entering the camps and restoring family links that shall eventually lead to reunification. As an interim solution for children affected by family separation, alternative care through foster families and kinship care is being provided.

Social workers provide psychosocial support to reunification efforts

Kule refugee camp: Nyadiet’s house is on the left where she lives with he four foster childrenSocial workers attending to the children have been trained in psychosocial support. After the training, Simon, one of the social workers, says he now feels confident on how to identify children that might need further specialized services.

He analyses the interaction of children in the child-friendly spaces and especially looks out for children who seem to be isolated from the group of peers. Simon is from South Sudan himself, and he tries to keep the cultural roots and traditions of the South Sudanese refugees alive by performing traditional folklore, singing songs and telling stories in the child-friendly spaces (CFS).

These activities are crucial for the implementation of a holistic, and culturally adjusted psychosocial intervention. Psychsocial interventions provided in the CFS are tailored to the specific needs of children. Factors such as age, sex, and the different wellbeing concerns that an individual might have, are taken into account in order to provide the appropriate response.

Family tracing and reunification efforts

Nygua is attending school in the camp and sometimes she goes to the activities in the child-friendly space. In collaboration with the social workers, Nyadiet is supporting efforts to find Nygua’s parents. Plan International has already initiated the family tracing process and is working closely with the Ethiopia Red Cross Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Nyadiet said that she is happy with the support she is receiving from the social workers, who visit her regularly in her house in Kule. The family has basic commodities, but some items like mosquito nets and soap are always scarce and she worries that there is never enough food in the house to properly feed the four fostered siblings. Nyadiet adds, “I try my best to provide clothes for the four children but also these are scarce sometimes.”

Ethiopia and neighbouring countries are hosting the South Sudanese refugees who have fled their country, since the conflict started in December 2013. Heavy fighting continues in South Sudan and therefore it is not known, when the over 200,000 South Sudanese refugees currently living in Gambella refugee camps can return home.

When asked about her future, Nyagua says: “I wish to find our parents or at least to hear that they are fine and safe.”

Posted in Child Protection, Emergencies, Ethiopia, Gambella, HIS | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams Key to Behavioural Change in Somali Region

By Matt Sarson

DHANDAMANE, SOMALI REGION, ETHIOPIA, 23rd October 2013 – As we drive through the Valley of Marvels between JigJiga, the Somali Regional capital, and Babille, which straddles the neighbouring Oromia Region, the emerald glow of vibrant plant life sits in stark contrast to the florescent copper shimmer of the soil below. The road is smooth tarmac and carves a winding path through the sparse moonscape.

This western tip of what is classified as one of Ethiopia’s four developing regional states is currently blessed with more precipitation than its eastern extremities, but drought, regular disease outbreaks, flooding and limited access to healthcare have blighted the majority of the region for a number of years.

Adawe Warsame is a Health & Nutrition Officer with UNICEF.Adawe Warsame is a Health & Nutrition Officer with UNICEF. Having grown up in the nearby city of Dire Dawa and a Somali himself, he is well aware of the historic complications of the region.

“The issues the people face in the Somali Region are multi-layered,” he explains. “In one part of the region there is a flood, which is followed by a disease outbreak; in another, severe drought. This has a huge impact on both the health and nutrition of the people here, as well as the ability of the government to provide adequate services.

“Most regions are underdeveloped in terms of health facilities, human resources and education. It is difficult to provide even the most basic of services in many areas.”

Accessing Hard to Reach Areas

The next morning we continue along the same road through Babille towards Dire Dawa, entering the Oromia Region, before leaving the asphalt and turning back on ourselves towards the Koro kebele – a more direct access road does not currently exist.

Our driver first has to remove branches from the road, which have been placed there by the neighbouring Oromia village. After a brief exchange, in which they question why the support is being provided solely to the Somali people, they help to clear the path for us. With regional governmental offices only responsible for their own kebeles, this is a common occurrence. By working closely with the Ethiopian government, UNICEF are able to mitigate such issues and access areas that others cannot.

“UNICEF is a little privileged in terms of movement compared to other NGOs,” Adawe assures us. ” As we work closely with the Regional Health Bureau, the vehicles have special plate numbers and the staff are also from the government side.”

The MHNT helps to train Health Extension Workers (HEWs) through a 16 package programme, which includes disease prevention and control, family health services, hygiene and environmental sanitation, health education and Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs). They also provide immunisations, deliver medicine and supplies, support Traditional Birthing Assistants (TBAs) and treat severe malnutrition. UNICEF currently supports 24 MHNTs in the Somali region. There used to be others operated by different NGOs, but due to financing restrictions these have now ceased to be operational.

As we arrive in the village, we are met by Mohamed Almur Musu, the kebele leader, who informs us that he is responsible for protecting both the people and the animals in his community. Adawe briefly explains the purpose of our visit before we begin to make our way through the village.

“We are on the border between the Somali and Oromia regions, and so have been a little neglected,” Mohamed explains at the entrance to one of the village houses. “Nowadays, we have better support and a new health facility, which makes us feel more secure. The problems we face here are many, but slowly things are improving.”

The Plight of Harmful Traditional Practices

Mohamed Almur Musu, Babile,Koro kebele lider father of 8

Mohamed Almur Musu, Babile, Koro kebele leader father of 8. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Tsegaye

One of the biggest and often most sensitive issues in the region is HTPs, such as early childhood marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). According to the 2011 Welfare Monitoring Survey (WMS) report, the region has the third highest rate of FGM (in 0-14 year olds) in Ethiopia (31%), after Afar (60%) and Amhara (47%).

“Prior to the government intervention, religious leaders were advising us not to practice these things,” Mohamed informs us, a nervous smile directed at those around him indicating that the issue is still one he is not altogether comfortable with. “The change wasn’t really monitored though and people were still doing it.”

Beyond the obvious initial pain of the procedure, the long term physiological, sexual and psychological effects of FGM are well documented. The consequences can even include death as a result of shock, haemorrhage or septicaemia. Long-term complications include loss of libido, genital malformation, delayed menarche, chronic pelvic complications and recurrent urinary retention and infection. Girls who have undergone FGM or also prone to various complications during birth and are more at risk of contracting HIV.

“We now have a very strong community stance against it. I can confidently say that it is no longer a part of our lives here,” Mohamed exclaims proudly.

At the first Girl Summit – held on July 22, 2014, in London, and joint hosted by UNICEF – Ethiopia’s deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Demeke Mekonnen announced a package to eradicate both FGM and early childhood marriage by 2025. This is the most recent step in a decade’s long struggle, but statistics are now starting to indicate that real progress is being made and this new target is a realistic one.

Women at the Centre of the Progress

Marayma Abdiwahab,Womens group coordinator in Koro Kebele, mother of one 12-year old daughter.

Marayma Abdiwahab, Womens group coordinator in Koro Kebele, mother of one 12-year old daughter ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Tsegaye

The house we are borrowing shade from is that of Marayama Abdiwahad, a confidant woman who plays a central role in the kebele’s women’s group. She has a 13-year-old daughter, Bisharo, and is clearly driven by a desire to improve the quality of life for all children in her community.

“Progress began with just a few simple steps,” she says, directing us to look around at the village as she talks. “The mobile team have taught us how to collect rubbish, to gather it somewhere and to burn it. Before, we didn’t wash our children, and our dishes and utensils were not clean, now we are also doing this.”

Although, this seems straightforward, the impact it has had on the community has been huge,

“Our children always used to get diarrhoea,” she continues. “Now, they are healthy and energetic. If anyone does get sick, we also now have the necessary facilities here to treat them.”

In addition to the hygiene aspect of the 16 package programme provided to the community, Marayama also discusses the role the women’s group has played in eradicating FGM.

“We used to perform FGM, but after receiving the 16 package we have committed ourselves to not performing it,” she says proudly. “We have discussed together the health problems it brings and have vowed to eradicate it from our community.”

When questioned about her own daughter, Marayama is defiant.

Health Extension worker, Abdulallh Abiib, 22, discuss hygine prctices with a women's group in Koro kebele.

Health Extension worker, Abdulallh Abiib, 22, discuss hygine prctices with a women’s group in Koro kebele. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Tsegaye

“If you yourselves are not ashamed, I will happily show you my daughter,” she insists, with a knowing smile. “I will never allow anyone to perform FGM on her.”

Abdullah Abiid, 22, is the kebele’s only HEW. He has been working in his role for a year now. When we meet him, he is discussing HTPs with the kebele’s women’s group.

“FGM no longer happens here,” he informs us proudly. “There is still early marriage, but now the girls are going to school and learning about this too.” At times, the progress has not been easy, but Abdullah is committed to achieving his objectives and improving life for all in his community.

“Some listen and accept what I am saying straight away, others laugh at me,” he says. “When they laugh, I don’t stop what I am doing because I know they will see what the other women are doing and follow their lead.

“They used to be ashamed to use a latrine even. When I explained that their own hygiene and the cleanliness of the home are important for maintaining the health of their children, they started to make the change.”

Part of a Bigger Picture

The progress in the level of hygiene and the eradication of HTPs is part of a bigger picture, whereby both the health and quality of life of all those in the community is improving – especially for girls.

The training and provision of clean delivery kits to TBAs has had a profound impact on the quality of birthing services, and this has been supported further by Tetanus Toxoid injections, which massively reduces the neo-natal tetanus mortality rate. The presence of the Health Post (HP) and MHNT for emergency situations also enables pregnant women to have more confidence should complications occur.

In the neighbouring Helobiyo Kebele, Ruman Ibrahim Osman, 28, is a prime example of the impact this has had. We are invited into her home where she is sat holding her 1-week old baby girl, Farhiyo. She had previously lost two children during complicated deliveries.

Ruman Ibrahim Osman with her one-week old Farhio Ahemed. Babile, Halobiye kebele“During the delivery of my previous child, the baby was in a difficult position and then got stuck,” she bravely informs us. “I was suffering for around 24 hours. The community tried to help, but finally, after a prolonged issue, the baby died.”

She had also lost another child in similar circumstances just 12 months earlier. With Farhiyo, however, the delivery was much more straight forward and she received support throughout her pregnancy.

“Initially, I met with the MHNT when they came to our village,” she recalls. “They told the pregnant mothers to come and gave us advice, vaccinations and linked us to the birth assistant. Then I got support from the birth assistant and gave birth with her help here at home.”

She is also now receiving continued support from the TBA and HEW.

” I have been told to breastfeed within the first few hours and I don’t give any additional food or water,” she says confidently. ” The mobile team are vaccinating us and our children, and treating diseases like malaria. The situation here is now much better.”

Although there is still some way to go to completely eradicate HTPs from the Somali region and to improve the health and nutrition of all, positive progress is clearly being made. For those working with UNICEF in the region, this is something that they are proud to be a part of.

“As someone with an educational background in public health, it brings me great pleasure to see these poorer communities now learning such important lessons,” Adawe exclaims gleefully back at UNICEF’s Somali regional office in JigJiga. “The people here do not deliberately want to hurt or damage their children.

“Driven by the services of our mobile teams, we are empowering them to protect both themselves and their future.”

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Support from the EU successfully contributes to closure of polio outbreak in Ethiopia

Health Extension Worker administers Polio Vaccination
Addis Ababa, 12 August 2015 – Support from the European Commission’s European Union has successfully contributed to efforts to contain the spread of the wild polio virus in Ethiopia, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced today.

“Following a robust and aggressive response to the onset of the 2013 Horn of Africa polio outbreak in Ethiopia, the Ministry of Health, partners and frontline workers have worked hard to ensure millions of children have been vaccinated with the polio vaccine,” said Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. “As a result of the response, transmission of the polio virus has been successfully interrupted. This success is due to the tremendous support from the EU and other partners, which has ensured teams on the ground have had the adequate vaccines to immunise and ultimately, protect children against polio and stop the outbreak.”

A recent Horn of Africa polio outbreak assessment in June 2015 declared that the transmission of wild poliovirus in Ethiopia and Kenya has now been interrupted, with the last case of wild poliovirus in Ethiopia confirmed almost 19 months ago in January 2014. 11 August 2015 also marks the one-year anniversary of the last reported wild poliovirus case in neighbouring Somalia, and on the entire continent of Africa.

The generous €4 million financial contribution, for polio eradication in Horn of Africa, provided Ethiopia and South Sudan with funds for the procurement of the oral polio vaccine to respond to the Horn of Africa polio outbreak.

In Ethiopia, a total of 23,783,000 doses of bOPV were procured for four polio supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs), in vulnerable, polio high-risk regions such as Somali, Gambella, Benshangul-Gumuz, Afar, Dire Dawa, Harari; in other high-risk zones in the country and refugee camps. The campaigns also included one nation-wide campaign covering all regions which aimed to vaccinate every single child in the country under the age of five years – over 13 million children. This supplementary immunisation complemented routine immunisation and sought to interrupt circulation of the polio virus by immunising every child under five years of age with two drops of oral polio vaccine for every round, regardless of previous immunisation status.

The campaigns, which were carried out in some of Ethiopia’s remotest parts, reaching hard-to-reach mobile and pastoral populations, successfully targeted children who were either not immunised, or only partially protected, and boosted the immunity in those who have been immunised.

The EU support contributed to regional efforts to interrupt polio and significantly accelerate the global push to eliminate polio. The polio virus can be swiftly transmitted through water or food contaminated with human waste from an infected person. There is no treatment against polio and vaccination remains the vital key to providing life-long protection for children. The vaccine – which is just two drops in the mouth – is safe, effective and prevents paralysis. Children should be vaccinated several times to ensure they are protected for life.

Through the generous support of the EU and other polio donors and partners such as The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention; Crown Prince Court, Abu Dhabi, UAE; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; National Philanthropic Trust; Slim Foundation; Rotary International; Swedish International Development Cooperation and others, successful closure of the outbreak in Ethiopia has been achieved. Continued collaboration is critical to sustain gains for polio, routine immunisation and child and family health in Ethiopia.

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Ethiopia’s reduced child mortality rate

Not so very long ago Ethiopia had one of the worst child mortality rates in Africa but it’s managed to slash the death toll by two-thirds, three years ahead of the Millennium Development Goal’s (MDG’s).

On a recent interview with CCTV, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Ms. Gillian Mellsop, said “The key heroes in reducing child mortality by two third in Ethiopia are the 38,000, mainly women government salaried, health extension workers in addition to the political commitment and the vision of the government and sustainable funding.”

See the full programme which was aired on CCTV below:

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