News / Africa

    Rural Ethiopians Spread Good Health Habits Over Coffee

    The front porch is the setting for coffee ceremonies where women of Dosha discuss new health practices for the neighborhood (VOA/Joana Mantey)
    The front porch is the setting for coffee ceremonies where women of Dosha discuss new health practices for the neighborhood (VOA/Joana Mantey)
    Joana Mantey
    Thousands of women in Ethiopia have joined a Health Development Army to turn the time-honored cultural practice of drinking coffee together into an opportunity to spread the word about better health practices in their rural communities. The army is made up of small groups of volunteers who gather in traditional coffee ceremonies to encourage behavior change among women and their neighborhoods.
     
    Women in villages throughout Oromia, the largest and most heavily populated of Ethiopia’s rural provinces, gather and talk over several rounds of coffee served in tiny ceramic cups. The beverage is brewed with locally-grown and unprocessed coffee beans roasted and ground by a local woman dressed in traditional Ethiopian attire. The finished product is brewed over a small lemon grass fire and served to invited guests. They take their coffee with sugar, but no milk.
     
    Gossip gives way to talk about hygeine

    This long-standing social tradition and source of daily gossip – in a country that claims to be the birthplace of coffee – has become the educational platform used by the local health volunteers of the Health Development Army. They are trained by the government’s vast network of health extension workers to bring behavior change at the community level and whip up support for government health programs.

    Datu Badadha, leader of a women’s group that meets for coffee in the village of Dosha, said these educational gatherings allow married women to get together with young women or men in the community for discussions.
     
    The leader of the Health Development Army volunteers in the village of Dosha is Datu Badadha. (VOA/Joana Mantey)The leader of the Health Development Army volunteers in the village of Dosha is Datu Badadha. (VOA/Joana Mantey)
    x
    The leader of the Health Development Army volunteers in the village of Dosha is Datu Badadha. (VOA/Joana Mantey)
    The leader of the Health Development Army volunteers in the village of Dosha is Datu Badadha. (VOA/Joana Mantey)
    Pathfinder International, an international non-profit, provides technical, financial and managerial support to the Ethiopian government’s health programs.

    “The Women Development Army are women that have implemented the health extension program of government very well so that others in their communities can see what they are benefitting out of this health extension program so that they can adapt or adopt what this Women Development Army are doing,” said Tariku Nigatu, who works with Pathfinder International in Ethiopia.

    Latrines, vaccines and maternity

    “In some households, people would not be using latrines and this Women Development Army member would encourage households to dig latrines and use it," Nigatu continued. "They encourage women to take their children to vaccination. When there are pregnant women they also refer them to seek maternity care from health extension workers and from health centers.”

    Tariku added that members of the army are able to interact freely with people in the community because they have a defined physical structure – a mud house with a living room, bedroom and store with separate accommodations for the kitchen, latrine and livestock. A house that fulfills the new requirements is called a model household and its inhabitants can supervise the implementation of health programs in five other homes.

    Joana Mantey interviews experts about Ethiopia's volunteer health army
    Joana Mantey interviews experts about Ethiopia's volunteer health armyi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Mesfin Nigussie of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Integrated Family Health Program said, “To be a model household they need to have a latrine, they have to use family planning and their children under one year should be fully immunized. They should have a separate house for living, cooking as well as for cattle. They should also have clean surroundings and eat balanced diets.”

    Homes that meet these requirements are awarded certificates. Mesfin said 64 percent of of those in the Oromia region now live in model households, a marked departure from the single huts which used to serve both as sleeping quarters and kitchens.
     
    He said the work of the Health Development Army is also helping to sustain behavior change in communities. Mesfin said the role played by members of the army in social mobilization is as well helping health extension workers to concentrate on clinical duties at the health posts.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.