Restores education, health services
The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is accelerating its work to restore basic services in Ethiopia’s conflict-torn Tigray region as part of a recovery project entrusted to it by the Ethiopian government.
Through the rapid response programs, the office reopened 12 schools and 12 health centers across four woredas initially, with a fifth woreda added lately. The funding will help resume basic education and health services disrupted by the two-year conflict.
The project marks a scaling up of aid for Tigray’s recovery, which faces immense needs after violence, looting and destruction left infrastructures in disarray.
Following an agreement signed between the Ministry of Finance and UNOPS in July last year, UNOPS was delegated to execute the program in Tigray as the war was active, and the federal government was unable to access the region.
The Office is ramping up support for recovery efforts in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region as part of a $300 million World Bank-funded project.
Tigray was one of five conflict-affected regions chosen for the initiative that was approved a year ago. The others were Benishangul-Gumuz, Amhara, Oromia and Afar.
According to Worknesh Mekonnen, UNOPS Multi-Country Office Director, the agency has received two installments out of the USD 25 million designated for recovery operations in Tigray and tasked to the UNOPS.
As per the information from the UNOPS Ethiopia office, they are supporting residents in Hintalo, Abergele, Hawzen, Asgede and Endemahoni woredas.
Covering stipends for 411 teachers and 408 health workers to get schools and clinics running again, the aim is to help students resume their education and patients receive medical care.
More than 10,000 students have returned to classrooms after the implementation of the initial phase of the programme, Worknesh said.
“Simultaneously, as we rehabilitated and restored, we made sure all teachers and kids would come back to classes that were opened,” she told The Reporter.
The director revealed that her team launched intervention programs before the Tigray peace agreement, adopting a strategy of accessing places they could only reach.
The modest assistance is now providing signs of hope in five Tigray woredas where schools and health centers received support to reopen.
Facilities received bedding, stationery, cleaning supplies and educational materials from UNOPS, according to information from its Ethiopia office. The agency also procured 3,000 desks and blackboards to distribute to the schools in coming weeks.
“Inside Tigray, it was relatively peaceful in selected areas, so we used that opportunity to access and resume classes in a few schools,” Worknesh said.
The Office is currently embarking on the first of its two major steps for the project: rapid response. Facilities that are less than 40 percent damaged are feasible for rapid response. It is through this step that the Office has managed to open schools and health centers that are currently operational in the five woredas.
“For a facility that’s more than 40 percent damaged, we call it recovery, which might require a design and major rehabilitation. We have not yet embarked on that one. We’re at the studying stage, and hopefully we will start it in September,” she explained about the second major step.
In addition to the World Bank-funded program in the five woredas, the Office is also operating other projects in the region.
“We are basically across the entire region working in agriculture, food security, and health-related responses. We are almost everywhere in Tigray now,” Worknesh told The Reporter.