2018 was a pivotal year for children in Ethiopia. Amid historic political transformations and a series of conflict-related emergencies affecting several parts of the country, UNICEF and the Government worked together to achieve results for children
After widespread protests and unrest, the resignation of former Ethiopian Prime Minister (PM) Hailemariam Desalegn in February 2018 ushered in the most significant reordering of political power in the country since 1991. The current PM Abiy Ahmed, elected in April 2018, instituted reforms that have steered Ethiopia on a path to become a multi-party liberal democracy. Most notably, at the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Summit in July 2018, President Isaias Afwerki and PM Abiy Ahmed signed a joint declaration to end the border conflict, restore diplomatic relations, and open the border after nearly 20 years of hostilities.
Understanding the situation of children
Ethiopia faces various pressures due to its fast-growing population which has increased from 84.8 million in 2012 to 94.4 million in 2017. The country’s approximately 50 million children remained at a high risk of living in poverty and having limited access to essential services.
Mitigating the impact of humanitarian crises
Severe ethnic conflict broke out in July and August in the border zones of Oromia and SNNP regions, leading to large scale displacement of nearly one million people, bringing the total number of internally displaced people (IDPs) to 2.8 million in 2018. Along international borders, some Ethiopians displaced by the conflict in Oromia region crossed into Kenya, and a large influx of Eritrean refugees entered Ethiopia since the reopening of the border crossing points between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 2018, the total number of registered refugees and asylum seekers reached 919,938, mainly coming from South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea.
Our results for children
Amid the humanitarian constraints, UNICEF continually worked with Government and partners to deliver on planned development programmes for children.
Strengthening government systems
UNICEF applies a twin-track strategy when working with the Government to improve the quality of social services.First, the organization has a long track record for designing and implementing programmes that effect real change for children and demonstrating these programmes to the woreda and regional governments. Second, to complement these efforts, UNICEF advocates and leverages financing for these programmes and strategies at a national scale (including building policies and guidelines and conducting research), so that the Government can reach its large population of children with new and improved services.
Promoting a culture of rights
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. It sets forth a wide range of provisions that encompass civil rights and freedoms, family environment, basic health and welfare, education, leisure and cultural activities and special protection measures. Ethiopia joined the CRC in 1991 but has struggled to ensure all children have access to those rights.
In 2018, UNICEF strengthened its partnerships within Ethiopia to increase advocacy efforts regarding child rights and to persuade others to take action.
Fit for purpose
UNICEF’s objectives can only be made through a fully competent and motivated workforce, and its committed and skilled staff are its greatest asset.
Together, working for children
UNICEF has been present in Ethiopia for 65 years and its history is closely tied to Ethiopia’s gradual transformation into a modern economy with strong aspirations for middle income status by 2025. Through its programme of cooperation in the country, UNICEF works to support national efforts to ensure the realization of the rights of children and women through improved child survival, development and protection.