The challenges and our response
Drought is one of two plagues that challenge Africa’s oldest independent country and has left an estimated 7.9 million people in need of humanitarian food assistance for their survival in the short-term and possibly longer. Ethiopia’s second challenge stems from a large and growing refugee population has been forced to flee armed conflicts in neighbouring countries, including Somalia and South Sudan.
International Medical Corps is providing important aid to address both these crises, including primary health care, mental health care and psychosocial support, nutrition, safe drinking water and hygiene assistance. We also administer a successful development program to improve the quality and diversity of household diet by supporting livestock ownership.
Drought Response: Nutrition and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
International Medical Corps has been working in Ethiopia for well over a decade, providing treatment for malnourished children and programs in water, sanitation and hygiene, food and livelihood security and comprehensive health care. Through its livelihood interventions that support the nutrition program, International Medical Corps has provided emergency seed distribution for nearly 15,000 households and livelihood support for another 1,400 families.
Current drought conditions have limited access to water in some regions, forcing residents–especially women and children–to travel longer distances for water, in some cases resorting to collect from possibly contaminated sources, including rivers, ponds and springs. Although a well-coordinated response is already underway in Ethiopia, growing needs for safe and potable water far exceed available resources. International Medical Corps has scaled up emergency response efforts in roughly half of the country’s 40 most affected districts, known as woredas. This support has included:
- Providing access to clean water, improving sanitation facilities, and promoting safe hygiene practices
- Distribution of Infant and Young Child Feeding information, education and communication materials
- Screening for, and treatment of, severe and moderate acute malnutrition, and training health care workers on severe acute malnutrition management, public health emergency management, including admission/discharge criteria, reporting and recording
- Providing logistical support to transport therapeutic foods, medications and other essential items to health centers and health posts
International Medical Corps is providing access to clean water, provision and improvement of sanitation facilities, promotion of safe hygiene practices. International Medical Corps’ WASH work focuses on strengthening health care and nutrition intervention services’ delivery at the facility level by establishing safe water supply and sanitation infrastructures. We also conduct regular hygiene awareness to enable communities better understand the threat of communicable diarrheal and other hygiene related diseases.
The WASH programming has served more than 440,000 people through water scheme rehabilitation, water trucking, water treatment chemical distribution, and hygiene and sanitation. International Medical Corps has built 367 water schemes, providing safe drinking water.
International Medical Corps has also established standby teams which deployed to the remote and hard to reach areas to provide much needed integrated WASH, nutrition and health assistance.
Refugee Response: Mental Health and Psychological Support (MHPSS), Sexual and Gender-based Violence (GBV)
International Medical Corps has established a Mental Health and Psychological Support program in five camps in Dolo Ado for Somali refugees and four camps in the Gambella Region for South Sudanese refugees. This program creates access to community-based mental health and psychosocial support services for refugees and the vulnerable internally displaced persons.
International Medical Corps works to prevent and respond to gender-based violence directed against South Sudanese refugees in Dolo Ado and Somali refugees in the Gambella Region across six refugee camps. International Medical Corps has been providing psychosocial support to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in the camps and strengthening the capacity of camp service providers training them on basic counselling skills and psychosocial care.
International Medical Corps also provides training to health professionals from referral hospitals and camp-based clinics on the identification, reporting and clinical case management of GBV, STIs, and treatment for female genital mutilation.
In addition, International Medical Corps has established two women-friendly centres-one in each camp. These women-friendly spaces are platforms where women and girls report and receive psychosocial support services, including referrals to specialised and more advanced care. In these centres, women participate in skill-building activities. They are equipped with materials needed for recovery activities, including musical instruments, henna design, books and art supplies.
Livelihoods and Food Security
International Medical Corps prioritises the training of community volunteers, mostly women, on nutrition education, screening and follow-up for malnourished children, and Essential Nutrition Actions, including exclusive breastfeeding, appropriate complementary feeding and other relevant preventive measures. Since 2010, International Medical Corps has trained 515 community volunteer health promoters on community mobilisation and prevention of malnutrition, as well as 448 female health extension workers in CMAM methodology.
International Medical Corps also trains Mother Care Groups (MCGs) to actively promote nutrition and healthy behaviour by visiting households and conducting education sessions. Through these mothers, we have reached over 153,000 households with health and nutrition messages since 2009.
We have also supported 5,000 female-headed households in food-insecure areas of West Hararghe zone in Oromia region through training in vegetable gardening and distribution of vegetable seeds and tools. Income earned from gardening allowed women to send their children to school and buy household assets, such as goats and chickens. Our activities also helped to reduce the impact of future food shocks on female-headed households by giving women more diversified and productive agricultural outputs.
Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV Prevention
With an estimated 673 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. International Medical Corps is committed to safeguarding the reproductive health of Ethiopian women and girls by improving awareness of maternal health, prevention of HIV/AIDS and traditional harmful practices.
International Medical Corps provided technical training, capacity building and mentorship to more than 499 health extension workers, 465 health care providers (doctors and nurses) and 400 traditional birth attendants on safe delivery practices, antenatal and postnatal care (ANC and PNC), family planning, and the treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
International Medical Corps implements a broad range of HIV/AIDS programs around the world, including direct service delivery, integrated tuberculosis testing and treatment, food security, counselling and testing, training of health staff, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission. In Ethiopia, International Medical Corps integrates community health education, including critical HIV prevention messages, into our overall programming.