Coronavirus: Our Response in Ethiopia

How We’re Continuing to Support Families Through Covid-19

Countries around the world are affected by coronavirus, during this time our priority remains our beneficiaries and our sponsored families. Below we outline the activities that we are taking to ensure our sponsored families and our staff are supported and safe.

  • Update 22nd October 2020 / 91,118 confirmed cases – Numbers of new cases have been decreasing since the start of September. In late September the government announced that schools would be returning on a phased basis over October with rural schools returning first, schools in cities second, and schools in Addis Ababa last. This means that schools in our project areas re-opened on Monday 19th October. Measures have been put in place to make schools safer. All students and school staff should wear masks and the government are providing these, handwashing stations should be available at schools, and no classes should have more than 25 students. These are challenging measures for many schools which don’t have access to running water and have average class sizes of 60 pupils. We are monitoring the situation as schools return and will be supporting our sponsored children and linked schools to meet the safety measures as we can, once we can observe what the priorities are. Our distribution of food parcels and educational materials to sponsored children in all areas has taken place as planned.

  • Update 20th September 2020 / 68,820 confirmed cases – The State of Emergency was lifted at the end of August but most protective restrictions remain in place. The Ministry of Education has given the go ahead for schools to enrol students by the 24th of September but has not yet indicated when school can resume. For students who were in Grade 8 and Grade 12 in the last academic year, and who will have to sit national exams, there will be 45 days of catch-up lessons before sitting their exams.
  • Update 18th August 2020 / 32,722 confirmed cases – Our sponsored families are now dealing with the double hit of coronavirus restrictions and rainy season. This means that the work that most of our families do – labouring, construction and running small businesses – is not viable right now. In addition to this food prices have been rising since the beginning of the outbreak. Government support is not available to our sponsored families as they are connected to a charity. Many of our families are struggling to keep their heads above water at this time. We are launching a Survival Food Parcel appeal to provide food supplies to all our families.
  • Update 15th June 2020 / 3,521 confirmed cases Schools and universities in Ethiopia have been closed since mid-March. Efforts have been made to move education to other areas, such as radio, TV, and online, so that learning doesn’t suffer. Unfortunately, many of the families we support cannot afford access to these means of learning and are at risk of falling behind. To try and support our sponsored families, Together We Learn has opened up our Gondar office twice a week so that sponsored children can continue to use the library, borrowing books and taking them home to practice reading and continue studying. We have also invited university students that we sponsor to use a laptop at the office so they can go online, access and print their course materials and continue their studies.
  • Update 29th May 2020 / 968 confirmed cases – The first cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Gondar, at this time there are known to be 8 confirmed cases over the last week which has led to over 100 people self-isolating. A new wave of awareness raising of rules regarding distancing and mask-wearing is taking place.
  • Update 18th May 2020 / 352 confirmed cases: Following several weeks of lockdown restrictions and with no cases confirmed in Gondar, communities are beginning to interact more like usual. Transport costs triple as social distancing is applied to buses and bajaj. Our staff return to working in the office 2 days a week but most projects continue to be on hold. We continue to avoid face to face meetings with sponsored families but are in contact by phone.

Original Post – 1st April 2020

Although case numbers in Ethiopia are low at the time of writing (29 confirmed cases as of 1st April), it is acknowledged that there is little testing and the actual number is likely to be higher. In a developing country like Ethiopia, where the health infrastructure is not as strong as it is in countries like the UK, the impact of coronavirus could be devastating and measures must be taken early on to halt the spread of the disease. At this time the health and safety of our sponsored families and Ethiopian staff are a top priority.

The Ethiopian government has already closed all schools and universities, closed bars and nightclubs, land borders are now also closed and social distancing is in place in market areas and religious spaces.

Our UK team is following the measures of the UK government, and we have taken the following actions in Ethiopia to ensure the wellbeing of our sponsored families and safety of all concerned:

  • Sponsored families have received an advance of their monthly financial aid (for April and May) at the beginning of this month to enable them to buy adequate food supplies.
  • Extra funds have been sent to all families this month to enable them to buy water, soap and other sanitation items to enable hand washing and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
  • All home and sponsorship update visits have been suspended. Our Sponsorship Coordinators can each see up to 6 families in one day so limiting contact is an important action to reduce the potential spread of the virus. We remain in phone contact with all our families and are providing specific advice to support them. This means that, unfortunately, all sponsorship updates are on hold at this time.
  • With the closure of schools our teacher training and construction programmes are on hold.
  • Our Kindu Klub, Playgroup and football team activities have been suspended.

We are monitoring the situation closely and will revise or change these measures in line with Ethiopian government guidance and to ensure the safety of our sponsored families and staff.

This is a global pandemic and we know that many of our supporters may also be affected by the virus and measures taken to limit its spread in the UK.

The families you sponsor in Ethiopia are already some of the most vulnerable in society and they will be the most at risk if the coronavirus pandemic affects Ethiopia as it has done the UK and other parts of the world. Your help is needed now more than ever and we thank you for your continued support at this time.

Together We Learn - Ethiopia