SONNE-International in Ethiopia – overview

In Ethiopia SONNE-International has been active since 2005

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries of the world. Malnutrition and natural catastrophes (prolonged droughts, but occasionally also floods) pose a constant threat, the health care system is abysmal (2.6 doctors for 100,000 people).

Afar Region

Afar Region in the north of the country is an extremely hot and inhospitable desertic area that is populated mainly by members of the Afar ethnicity. Due to ever more frequent droughts their situation has become increasingly precarious.

The Afar have their own language and culture, most of them are pastoralists and lead a semi-nomadic life. The illiteracy rate is extremely high, access to health care and infrastructure is for many of them virtually impossible. With its Ethiopian partner organisation APDA (Afar Pastoralist Development Association) SONNE-International has been trying to improve these people’s living conditions permanently and sustainably.

Our projects focus on:

health (basic medical care for all, with particular attention to children, pregnant women and young mothers)

education (in particular literacy and basic education, continuing education for talented students)

awareness programmes (fight against female genital mutilation and other harmful practices, women’s rights, hygiene, healthy food …)

During my official trip to Ethiopia I was able to convince myself of the excellent work of SONNE-International. I travelled to the Afar Region in the Northeast of the Country, which is characterized by extreme heat and aridity. SONNE-International has been supporting the nomadic population in the fields of alphabetisation and health care. The activities are geared to the Afar population’s requirements and living conditions and they empower in particular the traditionally disadvantaged Afar women.

Andrea Schmid,

Head of Unit
Civil Society International (Austrian Development Agency)

Ongoing SONNE projects in Ethiopia

Mobile basic health care & awareness programme

Due to the particular requirements of the Afar nomads, our health care and awareness programmes are organized on a mobile basis: approximately 150,000 persons in the districts of Awra, Uwwa, Chifra (Afar zone 4), Gewaane  and Gala’alu (zone 1), many of whom have never had access to any form of medical care before, profit from the selfless devotion of our mobile health workers and our traditional birth attendants, all of whom are members of the various Afar clans.

Simple treatments are carried out in situ. Severely ill patients are transported to the nearest hospital (which is often quite far away) in our SONNE ambulance car. Particular care is paid to pregnant women and young mothers. Basic prophylactic, hygienic and sanitary measures as well as health awareness programmes that lead to the introduction of very simple methods (the use of soap and mosquito nets, the boiling of water) have produced amazing results! The practice of FGM (female genital mutilation) has not been eradicated completely yet, but awareness has increased – and we will do our utmost to put an end to this inhuman archaic tradition!

Our mobile schools

In order to bring education to these people who are continually on the move, SONNE’s local partner APDA has introduced the concept of mobile schoolsthe teachers, themselves members of the respective Afar tribe, move along with the nomads and teach them wherever they may be at the time. This approach has proved extremely successful. Altogether, approximately 15.000 children and adults have learned to read and write and quite a few have moved on to higher education and even to university!

Sustainable famine relief – goats for families in need

In order to alleviate the aftermath of several terrible droughts in recent years, SONNE-International will supply hundreds of suffering families in the northern Afar Region with small herds of up to ten goats in early 2018.

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