The Addis Ababa City Government Education Bureau orders instructors and staff to contribute part of their stipends to drought-stricken Borena Zone, Oromia Region. The letter does not make the contribution mandatory, regardless of the fact that the Bureau actually does the contrary.
Over 30,000 Teachers, directors, and supervisors are expected to donate 1,000 birr each. The Education Bureau has also requested a contribution of 200 birr from each student and administrative employee.
Pasta, flour, grains, edible oil, rice, biscuits, and nutritional foods for children will be procured with the funds to distribute to children in drought-stricken areas of the Zone. The city’s private schools are also being requested to contribute vehicles.
Despite the March 24, 2023 deadline that was outlined in the Bureau’s letter to all capital region schools and districts, sources say that teachers are disgruntled and disillusioned.
A high school teacher who spoke to The Reporter on the condition of anonymity said that they have been making voluntary donations to the Red Cross and to the accounts set up to collect such funds. “However, the city administration has now made it mandatory for all. Plus, this contribution is called for only Borena, while there are similar problems in Somali, and the Sothern Nation Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR).”
The teacher says that the Bureau should disburse the donations to all areas hit by the drought if it is serious about helping those in need.
If not, he said, “the government is politicizing humanitarian assistance” and that recent contributions to the Ethiopian National Defense Force during the war in northern Ethiopia were just the latest example of a trend toward such mandatory contributions.
The city administration recently gave 250 million birr, both in cash and in kind, in an effort to save Borena. The mayor of Addis Ababa, Adanech Abebie, has stated that the majority of the funds come from local investors. It has been reported, however, that civil servants have also chipped in.
For the fifth consecutive season, Borena has seen its expected rains fail to materialize, leaving over 800,000 people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Millions more in southern Omo and the neighboring Somali region face the same grim reality.
However, observers have noted that not all regions hardest hit by the ongoing drought are receiving the same level of aid. According to the Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Plan for 2023, USD two billion is needed to address the country’s ongoing drought. The sum needed to support internally displaced people in the country is not included in the figure.
In 2023, humanitarian organizations hope to provide life-saving assistance to more than 13 million Ethiopians in drought-affected areas, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). These include services for food, nutrition, health, and safety.
The Education Bureau did not respond to The Reporter’s repeated requests for comment.