The Afar region is one of the most remote in Ethiopia and its marginalised pastoral communities live in a state of constant uncertainty due to recurring drought. This affects their access to food, shelter, water and often leads to them adopting a nomadic lifestyle. With a hostile environment that is believed to be the hottest place on earth, the region is also susceptible to regular disease outbreaks amongst cattle, making food security a significant concern.
In addition to the impact these harsh conditions have on migration patterns and health, many women and girls in these pastoral communities are victims of traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), which is still entrenched in local culture and rituals, and is a practice that leads to maternal and infant deaths.
AISDA has been able to win the trust and confidence of local leaders and the wider community, engaging and educating religious leaders, elders and traditional birth attendants on the harmful nature of FGM. And through school clubs, it has also reached thousands of students and parents. According to a field survey conducted by AISDA between 2009 and 2011, FGM on newborn girls in one district was reduced by 68%.
In 2011, AISDA helped reduce the school drop-out rate by 19% by installing water points which allowed children to stay in school rather than travel in search of water for their families.
To tackle food insecurity, AISDA regularly conducts vaccination campaigns as a means of safeguarding cattle from disease.
Consultancy support gave AISDA the opportunity to organise training on project cycle management and monitoring and evaluation for eight members of staff.
Recognising a lack of research to measure FGM prevalence rates, staff were also offered training to undertake research and measure the efficacy of anti-FGM projects in the area. This will be greatly beneficial to AISDA in finding and recording new ways to combat FGM.
Photos: Kristian Buus