Due to the effects of persistent drought, past wars, HIV/AIDS and poverty, along with the global food price hikes, the number of vulnerable people such as Tigisti and her children is high.
According to the country’s Central Statistics Office, the region has more than 217,000 orphans and 69,000 people with disabilities, as well as 119,000 destitute elders and 6,734 child-headed households.
“The needs of this vulnerable segment of the population cannot be fully addressed with the current limited government and donor support,” states a Labour Bureau document. As a result, it says it has placed high emphasis on the need to involve communities in social protection.
The project aims to set up social protection mechanisms for vulnerable groups and transfers a small amount of resources to them and assesses the impact of these transfers on their lives. It operates through Community Care Coalitions (CCCs).
The bureau is piloting a social protection minimum package in two woredas (districts), Abiadi and Hintalo-Wajirat (with a population of 17,000 and 152,000 respectively).
Across both woredas, a total of about 3,300 households will receive one or a combination of instruments, consisting of social pensions, basic household poverty grant, disability grant and child support grant. The project began on 12 August.
The grants range from 80 to 160 birr or US$4.80-$9.70 per month per household, depending on specific composition, and the project is expected to cost a total $2.3 million to March 2014.
Targeting school enrolment
Douglas Webb, one of the designers of the project, from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the programme was different from existing safety net initiatives “as it is designed to benefit those vulnerable people that can’t work or who shouldn’t be working, like under-aged children”.
The indicators in other African countries show that such programmes “tend to improve school enrolment, [and] nutritional and health status of this particular community”, he said.
“This is an important step to provide a social protection safety net for vulnerable population groups in a manner that is affordable, community-based and which limits dependency,” said UNICEF representative to Ethiopia, Ted Chaiban.
He said it would help to provide an “important lesson that can be brought into policy dialogue around how Ethiopia can build on existing social protection strictures”.
The Federal Minister of Social and Labour Affairs, Abdulfetah Abdulahi, said the programme would be referred to for a new social protection policy being drawn up. “Based on its result, we will use it intensively throughout the country,” said the minister.