|© UNICEF Ethiopia/2005/Getachew|
|A mother and child in the village of Tinishu Wegnaki wait to be screened by UNICEF as part of the Enhanced Outreach Strategy.|
By Indrias Getachew & Rachel Bonham Carter
NEW YORK, 8 August 2005 - UNICEF requires an additional $35.93 million to save the lives of Ethiopia’s most vulnerable children. Half a million children in Ethiopia die every year from preventable deaths as a result of malnutrition and disease. This figure is more than the entire population of Edinburgh in Scotland - the country that hosted this year’s G8 summit - or Las Vegas in the United States.
Much of the country has suffered from little rainfall and poor harvests, compounded by delays in the roll-out of the Government’s safety net programme.
During drought situations, UNICEF’s water and sanitation programme is as important as food to ensure child survival, yet it is 82 per cent short of its funding target.
Another area to benefit from the appeal would be the Enhanced Outreach Strategy (EOS), which is the largest ever partnership between UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the Ethiopian government. It targets 6.8 million children under five as well as pregnant and nursing mothers in 325 drought-affected districts. The child survival package - delivered twice a year - includes vitamin A supplementation, de-worming, measles catch-up, nutritional screening, referral to supplementary or therapeutic feeding programmes and, increasingly, bed nets to stop malaria spreading through mosquito bites.
|© UNICEF Ethiopia/2005/Getachew|
|A toddler receives a vitamin A supplement from a UNICEF health worker as part of the Enhanced Outreach Strategy.|
The village of Tinishu Wegnaki, in the Hamer district of Ethiopia’s Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ Region is two hours walking distance from the nearest basic health care facility. It was in this region that EOS screenings were first introduced in April 2004. In a part of the country frequently struck by drought, they are recognized as an essential aid to child survival.
At a recent screening, more than 80 per cent of the women and children health workers had hoped to see turned up. Bono Belante, from the Tinishu Wegnaki Women’s Association, puts the good turn out down to the obvious efficacy of the programme.
“We came to know the value of vaccinations when a sick girl was brought here,” says Bono. “[Health workers] tied something around her arm and then told us there was something wrong with the child and that we should bring her in. When we saw they had cured her, we believed the doctors would know when there is disease and if the children need treatment. We are bringing so many of our children for treatment after seeing them make that girl well again.”
Earlier this year UNICEF Ethiopia appealed for just short of $54.7 million to support Ethiopia’s most vulnerable children during 2005. Half way through the year less than 75 per cent had been funded. In June UNICEF warned that 170,000 Ethiopian children would die from malnutrition this year if not treated. This is double the number of children who die of malnutrition during an 'average' year. Since then contributions received from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States have filled a quarter of the funding gap.
8 August 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on life saving measures carried out by UNICEF in Ethiopia.