“Please come help us” was the cry from the Afar People of Ethiopia when Solana Beach Presbyterian Church first visited the region in 1999. In response to the self-identified “forgotten people”, SBPC launched a covenant partnership with the Afar in the year 2000.
2020 marks 20 years of this partnership. As the “Friends of the Afar”, our vision is to continue to promote transformational development by strengthening our ties with the local Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, along with the tribal elders, civic leaders and representatives of the Afar.
To truly celebrate this partnership and dream about the 20 years, we welcome you to walk backwards into the future with us by taking a look at what has been accomplished so far…
Health & Medical
Before Mekane Yesus and Solana Beach Presbyterian launch their programs, people in the Afar were traveling long distances to get health services. Very little education on sanitation adn the spread of diseases meant the infant mortality rate was really high. The Friends of the Afar have been able to assist with access to health care in their village and education about diseases such as Malaria and pneumonia.
> 5 health centers have been built serving 25,000 people
> Vaccinations increased from 30% of the population to 95%
> Up to 80% reduction on female circumcision
> 35 midwives trained
Through the Keep a Girl in School (KAGIS) program, SBPC has helped many young women realize their potential through education. These girls would otherwise be working in their homes or in the fields, but because of the program they are now in school and dreaming about their futures.
> 10 schools built (out of a total of 29 functioning schools in the region)
> Primary school enrollment from 2010 increased from 5,800 to 12,600
> Dropout rate among girls decreased from 11% to 4.4%, largely because of the Keep a Girl in School program
> 12 girls clubs provide extra tutoring and after school support
> 370 girls are currently being sponsored through KAGIS
Water & Sanitation
About 71% of the local community no access to safe drinking water. Many community members use the local river and other unprotected water sources for drinking. Unprotected water is very exposed to contamination since livestock and wild animals also rely on it. Through our partnership, water pipeline installation has been conducted in two rural towns along with a water purification station, with another currently being developed.
> 15 wells have been dug
> 10 miles of pipelines extend water to 4 local schools
> Hygiene clubs exist in 12 of the local schools
> 1,700 families are benefiting from new irrigation canals
The people of the Afar have been able to develop significant increase in farming yields during our 20-year partnership. Because of more efficient irrigation, higher quality maize seed and livestock immunization, Afar farmers are now able to stay in a single place for longer periods of time, increasing their production and revenue.
> Household income doubled due to selling of surplus farm production
> 115,000 head of cattle and 3,700 sheep/goats are vaccinated each year
> 600 families now grow forage crops sufficient for their herds
> 17 women’s savings groups have been started empowering 255 women to generate extra income for their families