Whilst elective surgery is on hold in Ethiopia due to Covid-19, Project Harar are unable to mobilize babies and children who need treatment for a cleft lip or palate. Project Harar have launched an Emergency Covid Appeal to run along side our year round outreach programme which operates in the poorest and most remote areas of Ethiopia.This project is supported by UK Events Industry charity Meeting Needs. The main focus of this project is distributing water barrels and soap to families so they have the extra facility to wash their hands in their own home and thus prevent spread of the virus. 

Background to the project

In the rural communities in which we work health messaging can be challenging, this is mainly because of the remote geographical location of these areas, families may have to travel on foot for hours to reach the nearest health centre. Health extension workers in Project Harar’s outreach network can have difficulties reaching some of these communities because of no road and may have to walk long distances or us a donkey. There is also scarce access to the internet or other media sources, which is why outreach work is so important. range of local dialects means that information may be misinterpreted. These are all difficulties that Project Harar’s outreach network factors in and aims to combat, when disseminating health information and identifying patients for cleft lip and palate, or a complex facial disfigurement.

At the beginning of March, Project Harar Programme Officers and Health Extension Workers started to add Covid awareness messaging into their usual outreach activities in these rural areas. Programme Officers also started to include this messaging into their training seminars with local health extension workers, focusing on the viruses main threats to the community and practical ways of preventing spread. 

As an adaptation to Project Harar’s outreach work, the Project Harar Ethiopian Team worked closely with the UK Team to think of further practical measures of Covid prevention for these rural communities.

Families who live in poor remote communities do not have access to running water in their own homes. A need was identified and a project was developed to provide a large, 25 litre water barrel and bars of soap to families as a practical and efficient way to help prevent the spread of Covid in rural areas. Water is collected from a communal source and an extra water barrel designated for hand washing means that families have the facility to wash their hands within their own home and therefore actively take measures on preventing the spread of the virus.

The water barrels will be distributed in the communities in which we work.

The UK team ran an online auction to fund a pilot programme in the remote regions of Oromia mid June of 2020. Project Harar Programme Officer for the Oromia region, Abraham distributed water barrels and soap to 30 families with great success.

The UK Events Industry charity Meeting Needs have pledged £5,000 to support our Covid Outreach Project in rural communities.

The Project Harar Office Team in Ethiopia and Amanuel Tafese, Executive Director of Project Harar Ethiopia,

with the water barrels for the pilot programme in Oromia 

Abraham, Programme Officer for the Oromia region,

distributing soap and water barrels to families in a rural community in Oromia

Photographs kindly provided by a Project Harar Programme Officer