ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopia has made progress in improving the wellbeing of children and women in the last five years, with key indicators in health, nutrition, education, child protection, showing marked improvements, reveals a new study.
The study – supported by UNICEF – was launched by the State Minister of Finance Admasu Nebebe and UNICEF representative Adele Khodr on Monday.
“Ethiopia has demonstrated remarkable progress over the last decade. Even though significant achievements have been registered in the country, a lot remains to be done with the support of all developing partners,’’ Admasu said.
“These findings show that when governments invest in children, as Ethiopia has done in the last two decades, the wellbeing of children improves, and they have better opportunities to fulfill their full potential,” said UNICEF Representative Adele.
“However, as the study shows, there is still more work to be done to end newborn deaths, improve immunization coverage, reduce chronic malnutrition, end child marriage, enroll every child in school, expand access to safe water and sanitation, and reduce child poverty,” Khodr said.
The new study reveals under-five child mortality has declined by two-thirds in the last two decades.
Despite progress, 96,000 babies are dying every year from neonatal causes and 872,000 are not fully vaccinated.
The study has also revealed the progress on stunting in under-five children, a sign of chronic malnutrition.
It has declined from 58 percent in 2000 to 37 percent.
“However, this still leaves 5.4 million who are too short for their age and the current rate of reduction needs to double if Ethiopia is to meet the Sustainable Development Goals,” it says.
An even more notable reduction has been seen in reducing child marriage
The prevalence of child marriage declined from 60 percent in 2005 to 40 percent in 2016, according to the study.
The country, however, still has 15 million child brides, six million of whom were married before the age of 15.
The rate of reduction needs to increase six-fold if child marriage is to be eliminated by 2030, the study suggests.
Education & More
Grade One enrolments have generally risen, the study reveals. It, however, says only six in ten children complete primary school and even fewer proceed to secondary school.
“Along the way, children are dropping out of school for reasons that include poverty, child marriage, humanitarian emergencies, inadequate quality of learning, and a shortage of school infrastructure and learning materials,” it says.
Currently, 2.6 million children aged 7 to 14 years are not enrolled in school and more than half are girls.
GDP capita has increased from 129 USD in 2000 to 863 USD in 2017 and contributed to reducing the number of people living in income poverty.
However, for children, access to basic services such as education, health, nutrition, protection, housing, water and sanitation remains limited for most families.
It leaves an estimated 36 million of the country’s 43 million children with insufficient access to basic social services, according to the study.
For Ethiopia to reach middle-income status by 2025 and achieve the SDGs by 2030, the study calls for investments in high impact actions in areas where the burden is high.
These include reducing neonatal mortality, scaling up safe drinking water, ending open defecation, and more.