Canada funding supports health and protection services for women and girls in Ethiopia

09 Dec 2022

Displaced women receive dignity kits with sanitary and hygiene items in Mekele, Tigray. © UNFPA Ethiopia, Paula Seijo

Mekelle, ETHIOPIA - New three-year funding from Canada to UNFPA, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, is supporting the provision of specialized protection services for women and girl survivors of gender-based violence in the crisis-affected regions of Afar, Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, and Tigray in Ethiopia. As part of this funding, UNFPA handed over life-saving reproductive health medicines and equipment to the Ayder Hospital-One Stop Centre in Mekelle.

The Government of Canada is providing CAN $20 million (approximately USD $15.9 million) to enable UNFPA to scale up essential health services across conflict-affected regions including for the clinical management of rape, mental health and psychosocial support and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA)

An estimated 26 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia with hunger knocking on the door for hundreds of thousands. Conflict and displacement in the north have left more than 9 million people in need in Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions, and severe drought is affecting millions in the south. 

“As is often the case, women and girls are paying a high price for conflict and instability across the country,” said Ms. Suzanne Mandong, UNFPA Representative in Ethiopia.  “Our priority is to scale up services that are vital for women and girls’ health, survival and future in northern Ethiopia and regions impacted by the drought. UNFPA is grateful to the Government and people of Canada for their long-standing support to safeguard women and girls’ rights in Ethiopia.”

Intersecting crises have paralysed the health system in Ethiopia, with facilities looted, damaged and destroyed, severely compromising women and girls’ access to basic services, including for contraception and maternal health. Skilled health workers and essential reproductive health medicines are also in short supply.  Displacement and instability have fuelled gender-based violence at the same time as access to medical and protection services has become restricted on the ground. 

Emergency reproductive health supplies and ambulances procured for northern Ethiopia with funding from Canada will serve the critical needs of nearly 400,000 conflict-affected women and girls across Afar, Amhara, Benishangul Gumuz, and Tigray. In addition, five ambulances procured under the programme will strengthen referrals for emergency and obstetric care preventing maternal and newborn deaths. Three of the ambulances will operate in the Tigray region.

“Canada has a long-standing commitment to protect and fulfill the rights of women and girls in Ethiopia and around the world,” said H.E. Stephane Ntwari Jobin, Ambassador of Canada to Ethiopia. “We are pleased to support UNFPA to ensure women and girls can access life-saving services, including critical medical and psychosocial assistance for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.”

A long-standing partner to UNFPA’s humanitarian operations in Ethiopia, the new funding is part of Canada’s strong support for UNFPA: In 2021, Canada was UNFPA’s largest co-financing contributor and among the top contributors to UNFPA’s humanitarian response

Under the three-year programme, UNFPA plans to:

  • Expand safe spaces, shelters, and one-stop centres to enable women and girl survivors of gender-based violence to access medical care and psychosocial support. 
  • Deploy mobile teams to take reproductive health services to women and girls, including in internally displaced person sites.
  • Increase community outreach for the provision of reproductive health services, including gender-based violence prevention and response.
  • Strengthen referral systems and human resources to ensure pregnant women experiencing complications can access emergency obstetric care, including through the procurement of ambulances.
  • Train healthcare providers to provide integrated reproductive health and protection services, including for the clinical management of rape. 
  • Distribute life-saving reproductive health medicines and supplies to health facilities and hospitals.
  • Provide basic hygiene items, including sanitary pads, to vulnerable women and girls.

UNFPA is working with UN agencies and partners, including women-led organizations, to scale up the delivery of life-saving reproductive health and protection services and is appealing for USD $30 million in Ethiopia for the remainder of 2022. To date the appeal is only 60 percent funded.

We use cookies and other identifiers to help improve your online experience. By using our website you agree to this. To learn more, including how to change your settings, see our cookie policy