4 EU funded youth projects in Ethiopia and identifying space for change

By Katya Pivcevic

Keywords: Youth, education, security, innovation, entrepreneurship, skills

Who should read this post? Ngos, policy makers, grassroots organisations, youth organisations, all of the above who are interested in EU-AU relations or who wish to learn more about the changes which can be made in Ethiopia. 

What are Ethiopia’s biggest needs?

A report by Young Lives published their longitudinal research in June 2018 into the greatest disparities facing the Ethiopian population. These may be separated into categories; food security and nutrition, access to water and sanitation, education and educational quality, children and youth, environment and employment. 

Food security and nutrition; ”Stunting was found to be associated with lower language and maths scores, later school enrolment and slower progression.”

Access to water and sanitation; “Considerable improvements in access to safe water and sanitation, most notably among the poorest and in rural sites, can be expected to have contributed to overall improved nutrition”. 

Education and educational quality; ”parents seem less keen on sending girls to pre-school, which is a cause for concern given Young Lives’ evidence of the importance of early learning for later achievement. ”, ”Slower learning achievements than expected were particularly evident among children from the most disadvantaged groups..”. 

Children and youth; ”Certain categories of children, notably child migrants, domestic workers, children living on the streets and those from very poor households are often more at risk of abuse. ” 

Environment; “rural households more vulnerable to environmental shocks, notably drought, and urban households somewhat more vulnerable to economic shocks, especially inflation.”

Employment; ”At 22 years of age, a large majority of those who were studying full time came from urban sites, while the majority of those who were working full time came from rural sites. Youth from rural sites were much more likely to combine work and school than those from urban sites.” ”..at age 22, one in ten youth were neither working nor studying.”

Several projects are identified in this report as being notable for crucial work for building change and resilience in Ethiopia. These projects all gained some funding from the EU, and incorporated innovative capacity building methods. 

  1. Innovation Fund for Resilience in Ethiopia (ICCO)

The ‘Reset Plus Innovation Fund’ is an EU led initiative through the Trust Fund for Africa, across 5 regions in Ethiopia which focuses on resilience building for social innovation. Due to Ethiopia’s climate-based struggles there has been much insecurity and instability particularly those in rural areas. There are therefore calls for new solutions emerging, sustainable water supply, long-term nutrition, and disaster risk reduction among others. A larger focus has been put on young people to answer these challenges. Approximately 1,200,000 euros will be spent on 2 components of this project: innovation and research to support, and secondly to implement the outcomes. It will be running between 2019 and 2022. The methods used for resilience building are not mentioned.

  1. Ethiopia: Education in emergencies for South Sudanese refugees (Plan International)

This Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) and EiE project in Ethiopia’s Gambella region is managed by Plan International, and funded through the EU (ECHO). The project takes a needs-based approach, for young people – especially girls – in an emergency setting.  The project aims to break down barriers for access to quality education, and increase the enrolment rate to protect young people from various risks more regularly face when not in consistent education. 

401,507 refugees live in Gambella’s refugee camp, and over 184,000 of those are children under the age of 18. Therefore supporting and strengthening existing school services for these refugees is crucial to maintaining child safety. Using a student-centered teaching methodology, the project also utilises capacity building training for ECCD facilitators, and refugee primary school teachers. Staff at the school received child protection training themselves, while parenting group sessions helped to engage parents of the children in helping to encourage enrolment and retention at school. The outcome of this is that the collective input also strengthens the quality of the education provided. Involvement of wider community members aids in reducing these ‘negative coping mechanisms’. 

  1.  Resilient Economy and Livelihood (REAL) project (AmRef

Amref Health Africa ran this project between 2016 – 2020 in partnership with the European Commission. This project focuses on sexual health, reproductive health and nutrition. This is based upon the 40% use of contraception rate amongst women in rural areas. The project was targeted at young people, for counselling, family planning and STI testing to be available. More than 3,700 women were supported, 2000 young people reached, 35 health care workers were trained to deliver the services. By mid 2020, the project hoped to have reached 5,000 households in the Wolaita region. AmRef mentions some of its training programmes include e-learning and mobile health platforms, which incorporate regular updates and peer-to-peer communication, but not specific methods.

  1. Yegarachin (Green String)

Yegarachin is a social healing programme in Ethiopia, where trained cultural facilitators foster dialogue within communities to rebuild connections between communities in Ethiopia’s diverse cultural landscape. The Green String Network developed a ‘Wellbeing and Resilience (WebR) Framework’ which is based on principles of peace, conflict resolution through intentionality of group facilitation, Incorporation of dialogue and leadership development. Within all of their programmes, Green Strings aims to measure growth in knowledge, changes in behaviour and changes in attitude. This results in growth of resilience, community engagement going beyond traditional mental health diagnosis by using a holistic approach.  Their holistic approach draws on  fields of neurobiology, psychology, restorative justice, conflict transformation, peace-building, and spirituality.

To conclude; within the Young Lives report, across the aforementioned projects, and within the EU Action plan for Integration and Inclusion there seem to be common themes on green solutions, sustainable solutions, entrepreneurship, digitalisation and engagement in community action. The EU Action plan also provides planned policy adjustments for migrants within Europe: which are relevant in understanding how EU-AU relations can foster change. 

The Young Lives report suggests some solutions which would be necessary to make changes in the discussed areas. 

> Food security and nutrition, Access to water and sanitation; “the current promotion of linkages between nutrition and service provision should be strengthened…continued investment in nutrition interventions particularly at times of crisis”.

> Education and educational quality; “major reforms including financial policies that increase allocations for the pre-primary and primary years and promote girls’ education at pre- and post-primary levels, as well as additional targeted and contextualised support to the poorest and most disadvantaged groups from rural, remote and pastoralist areas.”

> Children and youth; “more emphasis should be given to basic infrastructure, health facilities, and child- and youth-friendly spaces and services”. “Integrated child-sensitive social protection policies and programmes under the Social Protection Policy and recent Strategy. Options could include, in addition to cash transfers, nutrition interventions, child care at the workplace, school feeding and measures to improve school quality and access for the poorest”. 

> Environment, Employment;  ”Youth from rural sites were much more likely to combine work and school than those from urban sites… Most importantly, promotion of employment, job creation and entrepreneurship in line with the Youth Development and Change Strategy are crucial, especially since, at age 22, one in ten youth were neither working nor studying.”