An estimated 88% of Ethiopian children live in poverty. Not just financial insecurity, but a multi-dimensional poverty which includes lack of access to basic needs like housing, sanitation or education. In rural areas inequality runs deepest. The rural southern region of Ethiopia known as SNNPR is one of three regions where a staggering 91% of children live in poverty, compared to just 18% in the capital Addis Ababa.Citation

Leila has 8 children. Only four attend school, and the family live day to day. For Leila, the children’s income from casual labour, and their help in the fields, feels more important than learning. But this means the poverty cycle grinds on.

16 year old *Dagnesh believes it could be different – but without support, his chances of education are fading fast. Help us change the story for children like Dagnesh so they have more choices, and for mums like Leila, to help them make different choices.

What are the challenges in Ethiopia?

High rates of poverty mean that millions of children fail to complete education, dropping out of school early to help their families earn money, by labouring in the fields or selling goods on the streets. In rural areas, over 40% of children of school age may not be in the classroom.  Literacy rates are therefore low, with as many as 48% of people aged over 15 unable to read and write.Citation Families rely on subsistence agriculture, but this is increasingly prone to climate shocks and stresses. As one of the most populous countries in Africa, there is also a growing problem of land shortages for farming families in rural areas like the SNNPR.

What is Global Care doing about poverty in Ethiopia?

Working with our long-standing Ethiopian partners, the Addis Kidan Baptist Church Welfare and Development Association, we are supporting a new programme in three villages in Koshe, in one of the poorest districts in the SNNPR. Using self help groups as a catalyst for change,  our partners are bringing together up to 225 women to build skills, knowledge, confidence and supportive relationships, before using microfinance to help develop business opportunities.

We are working with women because they are responsible for decisions about children’s health, welfare and education, yet in a highly patriarchal society often have to make such decisions with unequal access to the necessary resources or knowledge to make positive choices. The evidence also shows that  resources earned by mothers will be spent on their children’s needs, whereas fathers are sometimes less reliable in their focus on the family.

Our goal is to challenge the culture which fails to value education, and to develop alternative sources of income for families, so they are less reliant on child labour. The project launched in September 2020, will run for four years, and is expected to benefit an estimated 675 children.

*In March 2021 we were able to extend our support to a similar project run by our partners in Shashemene, a semi-rural district about 100km from Koshe. In Shashemene we are supporting an additional 150 women and their families, in 10 established self-help groups.

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