Improving health services for South Omo and Dollo Ado pastoralists

Young Girl

The pastoralist communities in remote South Omo & Dollo Ado lack access to government health services and are marginalised due to a combination of political, social, economic and geographical factors. Health Poverty Action has been improving health in Ethiopia particularly for these remote pastoralist communities since 2005.

Reliance on livestock leaves communities particularly sensitive to shocks such as drought and floods which negatively impacts their ability to build sustainable, healthy livelihoods. This is reflected in the high levels of preventable disease as well as maternal and child death rates in the area. There are six different ethnic groups in the project area, with different dialects and cultural practices, making it very diverse!

Our current project targets 247,355 pastoralists, with a particular focus on women and children, by:

• Training health workers in key maternal child health and related areas

• Constructing traditional birthing huts where pastoralist women can give birth safely and be referred to equipped health facilities if complications arise

•  Supporting women’s health insurance groups to save and lend money for maternal child health emergencies

•  Training traditional birth attendants as Community Based Reproductive Health Agents to act as health promoters, counsellors for breastfeeding and home management of childhood illnesses and “runners” for Health Centres to link pastoralist communities with health facilities

•  Vaccinating children against preventable diseases such as polio and TB

•  Supporting mobile voluntary counselling and testing outreach services for HIV

•  Strengthening support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS, to provide HIV awareness and referral to static and outreach services

•  Providing sexual and reproductive health education and distributing condoms to reduce HIV transmission

•  Raising awareness about harmful practices like female genital mutilation and encouraging pastoralists to realise their right to health

This four year project is implemented in partnership with 2 local organisations, Enhancing Pastoralist Research and Development Alternatives (EPaRDA), and Pastoralist Concern (PC). The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

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