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

Who should read this post? Ngos, policy makers, grassroots organisations, youth organisations, those interested in EU-AU relations.

What are Ethiopia’s biggest needs?

Young Lives published a longitudinal research paper in June 2018, focusing on the greatest disparities face by the Ethiopian population. These include but are not limited to: Food security and nutrition; ”Stunting was found to be associated with lower language and maths scores, later school enrolment and slower progression.” Education and educational quality; ”Slower learning achievements (lower than expected) were particularly evident among children from the most disadvantaged groups..”. Children and youth; ”…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 (are) more vulnerable to environmental shocks, notably drought, and urban households somewhat more vulnerable to economic shocks, especially inflation.” Employment; ”At age 22, one in ten youth were neither working nor studying.”

We identify here, four projects which have or are completing crucial work to build change and resilience in Ethiopia. These projects all gained some funding from the European Union, and incorporated innovative capacity building methods. 

Across the projects and within the EU Action plan for Integration and Inclusion there seem to be common themes around green solutions, sustainable solutions, entrepreneurship, digitisation 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. 

  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. Green Strings aims to measure knowledge growth and behavioural and attitude change. This builds resilience and community engagement that, approaching mental health diagnoses using a holistic model. Green Strings draws on elements from neurobiology, psychology, restorative justice, conflict transformation, peace-building, and spirituality to create their programmes.

2. 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, focusing on resilience building for social innovation. Climate change in Ethiopia has caused insecurity and instability, particularly in rural areas. There are therefore calls for new solutions emerging such as; sustainable water supply, long-term nutrition, and disaster risk reduction. A larger focus has been put on young people to answer these challenges. Approximately €1,200,000 will be spent on ICCO’s project including: innovation and research to support and implement the outcomes. The project will run between 2019 and 2022. ICCO’s resilience building methods could be helpful for other projects working in the same field.

3. 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 project was a response to the statistic of a 40% contraception use-rate amongst women in rural areas. The project was targeted at young people, enabling counselling, family planning and STI testing to be available. More than 3,700 women were supported, 2000 young people reached, and 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’s training programmes include e-learning and mobile health platforms, which peer-to-peer communication. Providing e-learning materials is expected to become increasingly important where there is a lack access to education in rural communities.

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

Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE) and Education in Emergencies (EIE) 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 faced 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 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 collective input and involvement of wider community members strengthens the quality of the education provided and acts as a motivator for young refugees.

The Young Lives report suggests that “more emphasis should be given to basic infrastructure, health facilities, and child- and youth-friendly spaces and services”, while ”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.”