The collaboration between Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks and Save the Children Finland was initiated as a response to the urgent needs of children and their families in Alaba Special Woreda, an area which is severely dependent on rainfall and, where people are forced to travel every day over 20km to fetch water during dry seasons. Due to fluctuations in rainfall, the northern part of Alaba Woreda faces regular shortage of rain which affects the whole community in general but specifically children, who suffer from improper sanitation, water borne diseases and early school drop-out as incomes are reduced when cattle rearing becomes difficult. The impact of the drought has been made worse by the recent increases in food prices, which have further increased the hardships experienced by the community.
“This partnership emanates from the belief that the solutions to emergency situations have to be driven by long-term sustainable efforts that centre on community uplifment”, emphasized Micheline Ntiru, Head of Community Involvement, Nokia Middle East and Africa. “Forging partnerships with the local government and community is paramount to bringing meaningful change in any community”.
“Children form the most vulnerable group that is worst affected by the current emergency, therefore our partnership strives to strengthen their right and access to water and sanitation, as well as enhance the livelihoods of the community,” explains Dr. Tibebu Bogale, Save the Children Finland’s Country Director in Ethiopia. “The project aims to improve the lives of thousands of children and adults with sustainable results that will allow new community development initiatives to be undertaken in the future.”
Through this project six community managed water points will be set up in Alaba Woreda thus leading to improved sanitation and health. Together with hygiene education as well as cash-for-work initiatives for parents, the project will ensure that children are able to stay in school through the drought. In total five basic education centers will be equipped not only with books but also with solar panels thus harnessing the natural resource to provide electricity. “While we are focusing on alleviating the community from the prevailing drought and famine, we also believe that providing the youth with education will go a long way in opening up opportunities later in life that will enable them and the next generations to rise out of poverty” said Micke Maltusch, Ethiopia Country Director for Nokia Siemens Networks.
Furthermore the local community will be trained and equipped with the knowledge and capacity to properly manage and ensure the sustainability of water points within the area. Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks and Save the Children Finland look forward to seeing the children in Alaba Woreda having access to clean water and health education. As a sign of wider partnership, project funding will also be supplemented with an upcoming grant from the Government of Finland and additional financial support from the Woreda.
The project in Alaba Woreda is part of Save the Children’s humanitarian programme in Ethiopia related to food insecurity and drought. International Save the Children Alliance members are currently working to help nearly 900,000 people in six of the worst-affected regions. Work includes setting up work schemes to provide parents with a way to earn food and money, providing clean water, emergency feeding and healthcare for malnourished children, delivering veterinary drugs and animal feed to help families keep their animals alive.
In Africa, Nokia has worked with the Red Cross in Ghana and Kenya, responding to the devastating floods of 2007 as well as the civil unrest in early 2008 respectively. In these efforts, Nokia always emphasizes long-term rehabilitation of devastated communities.