Greeting you all for Christmas and the New Year as 2019 Slips into 2020!!
Our sincere thanks for walking through a difficult year with us..
As we pause on the brink of another 12 months, APDA is utterly aware the struggle we face is neither unique nor are we alone. It is thanks to the dedication and commitment of your organization and you yourselves that we are able to face the issues of community development against the odds of obscurity from world view; the ever-increasing fierce climate and in a world where the economic race dominates actual humanitarian need. Indeed starting with the long dry season that lasted from mid-September 2018 to late May 2019; then marching head-on into a plague of locusts that have consumed much of the pasture on the western and central grazing lands topped up with a brief encounter with cholera and more substantive attack from measles and whooping cough outbreaks and the age-old conflict between the Issa (Somali clan supported from Djibouti) and the Afar that has been whipped up to fury in the past year, life has not been easy!! In all, it has been a tough year. Your visits, your interaction to really learn of the issues that affect the Afar people as well as your time to think through with us how Afar can come through as self-sufficient being a relatively tiny spot in the extremities of world need and suffering have strongly encouraged and enabled us.
Indeed, all of us in APDA wish you time to re-charge as the world winds down to celebrate Christmas and New Year. May you be uplifted and encouraged to journey on into 2020 with us!!
- Breakthroughs achieved with your support in 2020
While it was a tough year, there were some breakthroughs that APDA needs to emulate into 2020. These include:
- Getting another 4 boreholes sunk in Mille woreda aiming to facilitate these communities to use the water for crop planting since they are close to the Awash River
- Managing to get some of APDA’s alternative basic education facilitators trained by the government teachers’ college establishing a track for recognition and grading them up to professional quality
- Vaccinating in extremely difficult terrain in Teeru, Afdeera and northern Dubte breaking a cycle of child-disease outbreaks. Teeru and Afdeera communities were also supported in emergency treatment of severely malnourished children
- Supporting communities in Bidu on the Eritrean border who otherwise were absolutely isolated with the beginnings of recovery through constructing a dam and then working to reduce their suffering in malnutrition
- Giving Erebti district access to water through 6 cistern rehabilitations; 6 new dams and also establishing rangeland rehabilitation bringing back indigenous trees and grasses.
- Establishing the first-ever borehole for Kori district reaching well over 2,000 households, one of the top ‘thirsty’ districts in the Region.
- Engineering improved techniques of bringing stopping female genital mutilation and in general, gender-based violence to an end: aside from actually physically screening under 5 year old girls as to whether and how they were cut, locating the cutters in northern Dubte that they can be stopped (there is now a list of 129 practitioners with full details of how they work); giving youth increased vocal position in schools and the community to oppose violence against females; giving clan leadership the role of prosecution and punishment for perpetrators where the government legal system does not reach.
- Curbing the death of animals in almost destitute households through animal treatment campaigns and feeding them alfalfa hay produced by the government.
- Supporting children in hostels that they can continue learning. There are now 8 children in levels 11 and 12 and Geega community brought 13 young girls to educate who have quickly mastered the skills of learning – they will be the first-ever female school graduates in a community of around 22,000 people.
- 2020 prospects, where best to turn
The outstanding aspect of the current status of the pastoralist community is their food insecurity: the herds have very little remaining pasture due to relatively poor rains in 2019 and then the locusts and daunting food costs in a country of soaring inflation. Actual reports of malnutrition are now widespread.
APDA is treating animals and distributing hay to the most desperate households. This needs to continue so that mass – death of animals is prevented and, as far as possible, milk can resume in the household for children and child-baring mothers. With annual winter rains being an almost lost season, rain cannot be expected before March/ April. As the dry-season winds on, the emergency status will sharpen taking on life-threatening thirst for several communities by January/ February.
The emergency flash-points of the Region are increasing including the northern border with Eritrea where drought has been constant and communities ostensibly isolated; Teeru where not only drought but the weed-shrub prosopis juliaforais decimating the livelihoods of the pastoralists; Kutubla in the east where Issa conflict and the diversion of the Awash River has reduced previously self-sufficient herdsmen to malnutrition and then pockets malnutrition are arising in nearly all districts where destitute and semi-destitute households have not recovered from previous drought shocks.
While responding to the emergency, APDA needs to build back recovery into affected communities that the cycle of destitution is broken. Urgently Afar pastoralist children and mothers need to gain food diversity to avert the growing trend to child growth stunting; local economy needs to be created within the communities and the pastoralists need to be the masters in the market rather than the victims.
Another high priority for APDA is to carry out routine vaccination in remote communities since the overall Afar Regional coverage is so shockingly low at 20% according to government figures. However, it is also essential to maintain health workers in these remote communities. In 2019, APDA has lost a total of 75 health workers from utterly remote sites due to the fact the project that supported them ended. Despite now 7 attempts to apply for support to bring back some of these precious people, nothing has been forthcoming, a symptom of the seemingly shrinking donor-environment. Maternal death as aware – communities devoid of their health worker carried their bleeding mothers to try and reach institutional help have already been reported in 2 sites. This brings to mind the necessity and urgency of both the remote communities themselves and APDA achieving self-sufficiency to continue both health and education services in remote areas until such time the government services can reach them. For this, APDA has written a strategic plan from 2019 to 2023 that aims to focus on the capacity of self-sufficiency and now wants to kick start social enterprise that these aspects of the program can be funded. Then the primary aspiration for APDA in 2020 is that it is able to turn the corner to generate local funding from the many opportunities that are apparent here. The organization has its own registered Social Enterprise called ‘Gabat’. The issue in not using this to generate funds is the absence of start-up capital.