GOAL staff are rolling out a COVID-19 response campaign across the Oromia region of southern Ethiopia and in the Aysaita and Berhale refugee camps in north eastern Ethiopia and Gambella refugee camps in the West.
High density refugee communities are especially vulnerable to the spread of the virus and Ethiopia has seen large influxes of refugees from Eritrea and South Sudan in recent years. In addition there are high numbers of internally displaced persons due to increased drought, floods and conflicts.
GOAL’s response in Ethiopia in recent weeks has included:
- Distribution of hygienic items such as soap to over 2,750 households and the establishment of handwashing points in nearly 30 locations.
- Provision of communication and community engagement materials to local healthcare facilities.
- Provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and masks, currently in high demand across the world, to six healthcare facilities, including those at Aysaita and Berhale refugee camps.
- Delivery of 50 handwashing barrels to the hospital in Aysaita thanks to funding provided by ECHO, the EU’s humanitarian aid fund.
The importance of health messaging
Health messaging is particularly important in rural areas where communities lack access to regular public health communications. GOAL is also financially contributing to the innovative work done by Ayana who is working on a local media initiative using a strategic messaging campaign composed of photo, video, and literary elements, that aims to reach 3 million Somalis, Oromos, and Amharic speakers and local translated languages.
According to the Country Director for GOAL Ethiopia, Dinkneh Asfaw, the COVID-19 outbreak is happening at a time in Ethiopia when already 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance (HRP 2020) and a locust invasion is threatening to affect the food security of 2 million more.
“Timely and accurate public health information is essential to prepare communities for the arrival of COVID-19, and to prevent a wide scale outbreak of the disease” says Dinkneh. “That’s why Governments across the developing world are promoting #StayHomeSaveLives to prevent their healthcare systems being overwhelmed, and this messaging is even more vital in countries such as Ethiopia where healthcare systems are already weak and lacking access to resources and medical supplies.”
He added: “This humanitarian support is vital for both the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 in Ethiopia, where GOAL has worked since the early 1980s. Our longstanding programmes in the country are geared towards helping vulnerable communities who are already tackling drought and displacement and are now being rapidly adapted to help them face this potentially devastating crisis.”
“We are delighted that we have reached 530,000 people to date and our work will continue over the coming weeks.”