The program provides school meals, mostly made up of porridge from locally produced maize with soy supplements. 
Photo: Save The Children.The program provides school meals, mostly made up of porridge from locally produced maize with soy supplements. Photo: Save The Children

School Meals and Clean Water for Thousands of Children in Drought-Affected Areas in Ethiopia

Last updated: 24.03.2016 // Norwegian support through Save the Children combats effects of drought in primary schools, in the most affected areas in Afar, parts of the Somali region and Sitti Zone in Ethiopia.

Norway was the first country to contribute to education in crisis in Ethiopia. Save the Children is working to reduce the effect of the drought within their long-term education support, in close cooperation with local authorities:

* Health and education correlates, down to the village level.

* Existing challenges in the primary school are amplified due to the drought.

* Poor psycho-social health of many children registered as a result of the crisis.

* Increased number of child marriages.

* Increased number of children and young people who have to manage on their own.

* Increased number of internally displaced people, challenges the school system.

* Inadequate statistics improved with the introduction of day-to-day reporting by mobile phones.

Save the Children estimates that roughly 2 million students needs school meals and water in the worst-hit drought areas. More girls drop out of school due to the drought. It is therefore important that schools have a special focus on girls. Experience shows they are less likely to return after dropping out.

The drought amplify the challenges in the primary schools; access to clean water, good sanitation facilities and lack of basic school materials. It is usually high turnover among teachers in these areas, and these days three times as many teachers are leaving because of water and food shortages. It is difficult to recruit new teachers and it takes time, so in the meantime, there has been a considerable increase in number of children per. teacher.

The drought also creates health problems that usually can be handled, which now cause severe problems. Nationwide cases of measles has increased from 12,000 in 2014 to 31,500 until autumn 2015. Due to a difficult hygiene situation, caused by water shortage, many children suffer from severe scabies.

It is difficult to assess how many children that have left school because statistics and monitoring are often not updated. This has resulted in difficulties to identify school children's needs properly, making it difficult to intervene in the most critical areas. Save the children have introduced a simple reporting system with the use of mobile phones. This has improved the data on attendance, dropout and other core information such as access to food, water and school materials. Based on the collected data it is possible to monitor the situation and trends, down to the village level, and increase the precision in determining the most vulnerable areas.

Save the Children's education program is providing school meals and transport of water to 25,000 school children. The meals are mostly made up of porridge from locally produced maize with soy supplements, and they are prepared at school. School meals are allocated in coordination with the World Food Program.

All schools supported by Save the Children have received supplies of school materials.

There is an ongoing intensive effort to distribute water throughout Afar, in cooperation with local water authorities. The water is distributed via trucks, each truck carrying approximately 10,000 liters of water. There are huge distances and the roads are often in very poor condition. Local water authorities ensure that the distributed water is not infected. In the worst affected areas, a family will get one jerry can of water that will last 3-4 days.

The drought has revealed major shortcomings in the established school system. Further efforts are needed in the schools in these areas, once the crisis is over, to increase the communities capability of handling crisis’ as droughts. Robust systems for disease prevention, access to clean water and school meals ought to be in place as a part of the regular schooling system.

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