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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora