UNICEF and major religious institutions have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Tuesday to address issues affecting children, women and the community at large through social and behaviour change, by fully engaging the spiritual wings whose extensive structure reaches families and individuals throughout the country.
A press statement sent out from UNICEF has indicated that the MoU resulted from continuous joint consultations, since 2014, through identified common ground between the core values of religious institutions, UNICEF’s mandate for children and women, and the need to work towards a major shift of working from a project based partnership to a more sustained and strategic approach to promote the rights and wellbeing of children and women.
Currently, in Ethiopia, 3 million children are out of school, 40 per cent of under-five children are malnourished, only 7 per cent of births are formally registered, less than one third of pregnant women deliver in health facilities, vaccination is less than 70 percent coverage, and many girls are exposed to different kinds of harmful traditional practices.
Moreover, disease outbreaks like Acute Watery Diarrhoea are affecting many, UNICEF said. “There can never be a more appropriate time for us to join forces, merge our mandate, responsibilities and moral values to enable our communities to build a world fit for children,” said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia.
“I would like to reiterate UNICEF’s commitment to foster this partnership, as together, we can succeed in improving the lives of children, women and adolescents in Ethiopia. When we work jointly by promoting positive behavior and social norms to increase demand and the provision of services, we not only bring results but also bring societal shifts, to build communities where children not only survive but thrive,” she added.