With a population of 115 million and a fast-growing economy, the coronavirus provides Ethiopia with the challenge of safeguarding health while preserving the economy to provide jobs, income and food. During these times, the government can rely on existing partnerships to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.
With the coronavirus spreading rapidly, the pandemic is not only threatening health systems but also other areas such as employment, income, businesses and food security. Faced with these complex challenges, the Ethiopian government builds on existing initiatives to channel efforts efficiently and address needs throughout the country. This strategy allows for maximizing limited resources to tackle the health emergency while addressing people and sectors affected by the pandemic at the same time.
In line with the long-standing Ethiopian-German cooperation of the last 50 years, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting the government to address challenges brought up by COVID-19 through already established areas of cooperation. On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), support spans from raising awareness in communities to strengthening health services and preserving employment. Germany has contributed an additional 120 million EUR to address the effects caused by the pandemic in Ethiopia.
As a fast-growing economy that has boosted production of goods and services Ethiopia has been widely affected by the coronavirus. The pandemic has forced local and international clients to cancel orders. To prevent the virus from spreading and to keep local businesses running, companies have adopted restrictive measures set by authorities.
One of the key sectors for the Ethiopian economy is the textile and garment industry, which aims to provide jobs for 350,000 people by 2022. With the pandemic hitting the region, many jobs in the industry are at risk. GIZ supports projects in the area of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and mitigates the impact on the textile industry. Factory workers are trained to shift to the production of hand-sewn face masks, which they can produce from home, assuring income generation while minimizing the risk of infection. The training will be scaled up to include 12,000 laid-off industry workers.
Additionally, awareness campaigns in communities and factories are taking place. By adopting strict prevention and protective measures, workers and employers can continue to operate in a safer environment. Together with the Regional Bureau of Health, GIZ has also supported efforts to raise awareness and provide facemasks for almost 70,000 workers in the garment sector.
Together with the United Nation’s Children Fund UNICEF, GIZ is supporting the Ministry of Health (MoH) to supply 49,000 health workers in far-off regions with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, medical waste bins, water tanks, infrared thermometers or hospital beds. GIZ has also supported the installation of solar panel systems in health facilities to assure electricity supply and guarantee reliable health services for more than one million people in rural areas.
Additionally, the German Government has contributed around 1.5 million EUR for direct measures in the Ethiopian health sector. In partnership with the MoH and the World Health Organization (WHO), GIZ is contributing to strengthen the capacities of laboratory and health facilities, infection prevention and control, as well as surveillance of COVID-19 data.
As Ethiopia’s economy is based on agriculture, farmers play a key role not only in the economy but also in sustaining the production of food supplies. Adopting measures to protect their health and production has been a priority for the government. This ensures both food supply in the country and preserving income for people making their living in agriculture.
A nationwide awareness campaign on COVID-19 has reached communities in remote areas. Information on risk, prevention and symptoms is being broadcast and disseminated to 6.7 million people in Amhara, Oromia, Afar and Somali regional states in their local languages. The campaign includes radio and TV announcements, and it also extends to public spaces with a large quantity of posters, flyers, banners at bus stops and stickers. Furthermore, development agents have been deployed in rural areas and equipped with megaphones and motorbikes in order to move around delivering advisory services and raising awareness in communities dominated by agriculture.