“Over the past ten years, Ethiopia’s old NGO laws have prevented us from engaging in rights issues—which have always been the biggest problem. On top of that, the country’s increasing socio-economic issues have created an unfavorable environment to prioritise the rights of children.”
Q: How has your organization grown and what are your greatest achievements?
A: Since its inception in 1997, EDA has carried out several projects that continue to benefit the most disadvantaged groups in the community, particularly children and women across Ethiopia. We regularly leverage our reach and relationships with local authorities and relevant stakeholders. For example, we have been influencing change across community systems by establishing the Community Care Coalitions (CCCs) from different multi-sectorial offices, in different regions, to advocate and speak on behalf of children and marginalized youth. The CCC members are legally recognized as a system at all levels, from local to regional government structures. The establishment of this system has contributed greatly to our influencing and lobbying strategy, particularly in the area of child abuse and exploitation. This works in addition to EDA’s established child protection systems in the schools’ community to protect children by themselves.
Q: What have been some of your greatest challenges?
A: Over the past ten years,Ethiopia’s NGOs (old laws) have prevented us from engaging in rights issues—which have always been the biggest problem—and the country’s increasing socio-economic issues have created an unfavorable working environment to prioritise the rights of children. This time, however, with the new NGO laws launched, we have found that resource limitations are also presenting a challenge to meeting the demand of our stakeholders and being able to assist marginalised children.
Q: Now that you are a member of ECPAT, what would you like your fellow ECPAT members to know about you?
A: I love this quote by Richard Branson:
“every great movement in the world starts with a tiny group of people who simply refuse to accept a situation.”
We believe that we have to refuse to accept a situation that could hinder us to do our job, which is to advocate for our marginalized children. We must ensure that the world if a safer place for the future leaders our planet. EDA is an organization that is always learning and is always happy to implement community-led and innovative projects. We look to our fellow ECPAT network members to see how they are pioneering, growing, and adapting to change in child development and community-driven areas. There’s much to learn from the wealth of ECPAT’s vast network.
Q: How has EDA adapted during the pandemic?
A: It is evident that the COVID-19 outbreak has seriously affected the socio-economic, health, and psychosocial life of the target communities. We continue to assist our target groups to adapt to this new way of life by following the COVID-19 protocol and guidelines from the Ethiopian government’s Ministery of Health and the WHO. Since last February, EDA has engaged in COVID-19 emergency support for 5.0 million children, youth, women, and communities. For school-age children who have had to drop out of school during the lockdown, we have developed a strategy that allows children to study from home through radio, SMS, Telegram, etc. We have also enlisted a number of tactics through community mobilizers, the schools themselves, communities, and parents in a sort of teaching-learning process. As well as that, EDA tried to solicit emergency funding’s to support the day-to-day living conditions of the target communities. In collaboration with both former and existing donors we have been able to provide food assistance, sanitizers, soaps, and some dignity materials to those facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.