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Responding to Displacement in Collaboration with Local Partners in Ethiopia


February 15, 2024 • 3 min read

In 2021, the city of Debre Berhan in Ethiopia faced an unprecedented influx of over 30,000 internally displaced people (IDPs). Armed conflict in Ethiopia has forced millions of families out of their homes. When displaced populations arrive in their host communities, often presenting with complex humanitarian needs, local systems can become overwhelmed.

Multi-sectoral response in collaboration with local partners

City officials and local communities were unprepared for the arrival of these IDPs. With nowhere to go, the IDPs were forced to set up makeshift shelters, facing harsh living conditions in the wake of the trauma they experienced. Recognising the urgent need for assistance, and in collaboration with local partners, GOAL quickly launched a response.

With support from the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund (EHF), the integrated project addressed shelter, health, WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene), nutrition, and other needs. This initiative also included the provision of critical, life-saving medications to alleviate the strain on the city’s overwhelmed health system.

With access to the fund, GOAL, in partnership with the Center of Concern (CoC) and Development Expertise Center (DEC), initiated the construction of standardised shelters. Mobile health and nutrition teams were also deployed within the IDP camps to address the dire medical needs of displaced individuals.

Lubaba Tesfaye, a 28-year-old mother, is one of the IDPs benefiting from the healthcare services provided by the mobile health and nutrition team.

“We are here from different parts of the country. We were living good lives but were forced to leave everything behind. So, you can imagine the level of anger and frustration that we are living with,” she said, sadly. “Whenever we visited the mobile health team, we directed our anger at them, but they treated us with respect and understanding. [GOAL] are here with us no matter what. I cannot thank them enough for their professionalism and humanity.”

Lubaba Tesfaye (28) is an IDP living in Debre Berhan who received support from GOAL

Constructing shelters for displaced people

In collaboration with local partners, GOAL constructed 502 units of Duplex shelters, a 750-meter water scheme, 10 blocks of showers, and 10 blocks of communal latrines in just five months. The IDPs, who were previously living in crowded and uncomfortable conditions, were successfully transferred to the new site. Health facilities, schools, distribution sites, and water distribution points were established.

Water tanks constructed by GOAL in partnership with Centre of Concern and the Development Expertise Center

Government-owned farmland was transformed into a well-established IDP camp with standard shelter and facilities in a span of five months. Recently erected compact shops, crafted from plastic shades, alongside petite vegetable gardens, echo the promise of renewal and optimism within the camp. The ambient sounds of children absorbed in learning the alphabet drift from a tented school, a signal of hope and a fresh start.

Wasihun Teshome, from GOAL’s local partner, Development Expertise Center, reflected on the collaboration: “We are all humanitarians dedicated to saving lives and supporting people in need. However, the GOAL team is uniquely built for such a mission. I am grateful to everyone who participated in this. It is the collaboration that resulted in achieving such remarkable work in a short period.”

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Displaced children attending school in an IDP camp in Debre Berhan