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Despite recent economic growth and sorely needed rainfall, poverty and hunger remain widespread in Ethiopia. Millions continue to face chronic food insecurity and water shortages. Much of the population lacks access to clean water, health care and education. A lingering border dispute with Eritrea has threatened to escalate.
Issues facing children in Ethiopia
Malnutrition is responsible for more than half of all deaths among children under age five. The number of chronically malnourished children has decreased since 1996, but remains alarmingly high.
Rates of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation have been improving in recent years, helping reduce the number of deaths due to diarrhoea, which currently accounts for around 20 per cent of under-five mortality.
Immunization rates for the major vaccine-preventable diseases are around 80-90 per cent.
Ethiopia had been polio-free for three years, but 19 cases were reported between December 2004 and October 2005.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 4.4 per cent, and the spread of the virus has slowed. Approximately 1.5 million people are living with HIV, some 120,000 of them children.
Ethiopia is home to 4 million orphans, or 12 per cent of all children. More than half a million of these were orphaned as a result of AIDS.
Activities and results for children
UNICEF and its partners provided vitamin A supplementation and/or de-worming to nearly 9 million children. Almost half a million malnourished children and 260,000 pregnant and lactating women received supplementary feeding. UNICEF’s partnership with the World Food Programme saves an estimated 100,000 lives per year.
Three million insecticide-treated bed nets have been distributed, and they have proven to be an effective tool in the fight against malaria. In targeted areas, three quarters of women and children now sleep under bed nets.
Fifteen million children were inoculated against polio during five National Immunization Days. Another 1.2 million children received measles vaccinations.
UNICEF and its partners brought safe drinking water, sanitary latrines, hygiene education and/or water-purification products to nearly a million people.
The school enrolment rate, especially among girls, continues to increase, helping to close the gender gap. UNICEF helped to build 250 temporary schools for 50,000 children.
Since 2003, more than half a million people – more than half of them women and children – have voluntarily resettled as part of an ambitious government programme to move a total of 2.2 million people out of food-insecure areas.
UNICEF and its partners provided emergency relief to 50,000 people displaced by flooding in the Gode area, and to 7,000 people affected by a volcano eruption in Afar.