By Philips Joseph |

Arba Minch University (AMU), one of the implementing partners of UNFPA-UNICEF’s Joint Program accorded grand welcome to Norway’s Envoy to Ethiopia Mr Andreas Gaarder, his delegation and project stakeholders’ top officials on Nov 2, 2015, at Main Campus, as the latter arrived for their fact-finding mission.

AMU President, Dr Feleke Woldeyes, welcoming the ambassador, UNFPA Deputy Rep, Mr Victor Rakoto, UNICEF Regional chief, Joyce Gachiri, Arba Minch City Administration officials and others, said it was privilege to partner with Norway as it’s of great significance for AMU.

Apprising them with AMU’s profile, he informed about the different approaches adopted to address HIV/AIDS, SRH and to make intervention result-oriented, two resource centres and ‘Zero Plan Rooms’ have been established to educate youth on such sensitive issues.

On prevailing scenario, he said, though, it’s just a beginning, but with increasing students’ population, the demography of Arba Minch town is rapidly changing. In that context, health becomes important factor and Norway’s support in this regard assumes great significance.

Ambassador said, ‘‘Apart from seeing different parts of Ethiopia, I wanted to know Norway’s engagement with Ethiopia as our long-standing association dates back to 20 years. Apart from ongoing cooperation in higher education, Norway intends to strengthen ties on primary side of education. Whether it’s scholarship or university-to-university collaboration, these are important basis on which Norway can further forge strategic ties with Ethiopia.’’

The visiting dignitaries also paid visit to HIV/AIDS resource centre and ‘Zero Plan Room’ at Main Campus, where they were briefed about various activities being carried out, objectives and constraints. The Envoy, UNFPA and UNICEF officials interacting with girl students at Zero Plan Room, asked as to how many of them had access to such centres under constraints.

According to AMU Program Coordinator, Mr Enyew Getahun, university girls and boys will be sensitized on HIV/AIDS and Sexual Reproductive Health issues. Special care would be given to girl students who are vulnerable than boys; instead of monetary aid, stationary and sanitary materials would be given to girls, he adds.

Program Specialist on Adolescent & Youth Empowerment, Meron Nigussie, unraveling UNFPA’s perspective, said, ‘‘We look for empowering youth to refine their health-seeking behavior. They will have life-skills which will protect them from HIV/AIDS, SRH and other related problems.’’

The project target group is in the age group of 10 to 24 years. This four-year project is being implemented by 12 universities including AMU in the six regions i.e. Tigray, SNNPR, Addis Ababa, Oromia, Amhara and Afaar. In SNNPR, it will cover AMU, Hawassa, Dilla and Wolaita Soddo universities and 30 woredas nation-wide. 

Importantly, in its second phase project has included a new component that will deal with this menace right from elementary and high school level by providing preventive intervention by Bureau of education and city administration. And apart from providing financial aids to those afflicted with HIV/AIDS, clinics’ capacity will be built, which in turn render freebie services.

UNICEF’s child protection officer, Mr Sami Gezu, assures to provide required support to all implementing partners in reaching out to target groups thus fulfilling the common agenda.

AMU’s Cross-Cutting Directorate Director, Mr Tadesse Alemu and UNFPA’s Regional Coordinator, Mr Tadesse Hailemariam were instrumental in making necessary arrangements for the fact-finding visit.

Source: Arba Minch University
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