COVID-19: Updates From Ethiopia

Project Ethiopia team members practicing social distancing.

So much has changed in our communities and in our world in a very short time. No matter where we live on the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives and our communities in some way. This is now a worldwide shared experience across geography, culture, and economic condition.

As a partner in our work serving rural families and communities in Dangla, Ethiopia, we wanted to share with you the current situation in Ethiopia and in the area where Project Ethiopia works. As we’re sure you are aware, COVID-19 has now reached the continent of Africa, including Ethiopia. The first case of coronavirus in Ethiopia was confirmed in mid-March and the number of cases has been increasing since that time.

We know Project Ethiopia has an important role to play in this crisis. Our model for working with and empowering the community stands entirely on a foundation of trust and reliability. We remain committed to authentic community connection during this difficult time and fully believe our leaders and project team in Ethiopia will know the right thing to do at the right time.

Current Situation in Dangla

Due to recent exposure from a visitor to the area who tested positive for COVID-19, Dangla is in a lockdown. Everyone must stay in their homes and no movement is allowed. Markets, churches, and businesses are all closed. Military patrol the streets and no traffic is allowed in or out. While this is an anxious and uncertain time, we are hopeful that early and swift action by the government will protect the community at-large and those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

Our Response

Early on, our Project Leaders, Awoke and Workineh, halted all project work out of concern for the safety of our team and the community as a whole. Our leadership team in Dangla met early, modeling good social distancing (as shown in the photo at top), to identify where and how Project Ethiopia can help.

Currently, Project Ethiopia is focused on the following:

  1. Supporting our team through these challenging times. Right away we assured our project team that we will continue to provide monthly staff stipends to help reduce the economic impact of the pandemic and the lockdown. We will continue to stay in close contact with Awoke and Workineh so we can be responsive to their suggestions to help our team and the rural communities we serve.
  2. Getting accurate and timely information to the community. Our team has quickly organized to provide information via cell phone to farmers in remote areas of the countryside where there is no access to radio or TV. Workineh is a trusted leader in all the communities where we have built schools and improved village life. Utilizing the vast network of community partners nurtured over the years, our team has created a communications chain that is now getting information out to the hard to reach areas.
  3. Reevaluating our program priorities in Dangla to directly address critical and emergent needs related to COVID-19. We are called to shift our work and attention to where we can be most impactful. Looking ahead we are deeply concerned about hygiene and food insecurity especially for the most vulnerable and impoverished in the community. Currently, our team is monitoring the situation by staying in regular phone contact with village elders, priests, and other community leaders. Once the lockdown is lifted, we will be informed, connected, and ready to act.

Over the coming weeks, we will be sure to keep you informed of the changing situation in Dangla and how Project Ethiopia is stepping in to be a part of the solution.

As we each experience this crisis in our own families and communities, we thank you for holding a place in your heart for those in Dangla and around the world.

With gratitude –

Project Ethiopia Board and Staff

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