Key findings

  • Social protection transfers under the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) have provided important benefits and protection against food insecurity and have improved child nutrition. Public works have provided significant community benefits although in some cases, despite regulations, children were involved.
  • Most orphans are cared for by family members and play an important role in supporting their households. Inequalities in schooling and health outcomes are larger between urban and rural children and by poverty level than between orphans and other children. Children’s experiences are shaped not only by parental death but also by the wider social and economic contexts of their daily lives, including gender, age, household poverty and shocks.
  • Common causes of child work include poverty, shocks and adverse events such as illness or death of caregivers that sometimes require children to leave school and prioritise paid work. Children often face competing pressures on their time from work and school. For some children in poor households working may be essential to pay for school-related costs, though repeated absence may lead to children dropping out of school.
  • Remarkable progress has been achieved in reducing both child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Ethiopia, although significant differences persist between rural and urban areas, and between region and communities. Opportunities for girls through education, training, employment, migration and social protection are still limited, and, given the existence of some resistance, imposing bans can push the practices underground and result in unintended negative consequences.
  • Violence against children is often related to and exacerbated by poverty, and gender-based violence by social norms. Certain categories of children, notably child migrants, domestic workers, children living on the streets, and those from very poor households are often more at risk of abuse. Most cases remain unreported or are dealt with through informal mechanisms, although formal institutions are increasingly addressing violence despite constraints on reporting especially by vulnerable categories.
  • Relocation is perceived by children in poor neighbourhoods as offering hopes of cleaner and safer living conditions, and condominiums as improving sanitation and privacy. However, many people feared they will not be able to afford the costs of the condominiums and transport, and worry about limited employment options nearby. Some mentioned distance from schools, lack of playgrounds, and risks associated with multi-storied buildings for children, the elderly, the sick and pregnant women.

Policy messages

  • Social protection and child protection can work better together. The PSNP should pay more attention to the implications for children in terms of their work and can provide useful lessons for the design of integrated child-sensitive social protection policies and programmes under the Social Protection Policy and recent Strategy. Options could include, in addition to cash transfers, nutrition interventions as recently included within the PSNP design, child care at the workplace, school feeding and measures to improve school quality and access for the poorest, and health insurance with exemptions for the poorest, in line with the Community Based Health Insurance initiatives.
  • Different social policies, notably in nutrition, education, health, and social protection can be better integrated rather than relying simply on sectoral responses, in order better to address multiple risks as suggested in the recent National Children’s Policy. Supporting all children, including orphans, requires addressing chronic poverty and associated risks. Rather than policies based purely on targeting, increasing the coverage of basic services and social protection schemes, as proposed in the Social Protection Policy, would ensure the poorest and most marginalised children are reached.
  • Promoting children’s wellbeing and development requires an integrated approach which addresses the broader social and economic context in which children’s school and work are seen as part of their lives. Child-sensitive social protection should target the age- and gender[1]specific risks and provide insurance against vulnerabilities and support for children in affected households. Improvements in living conditions could ensure young children access early learning, and reduce work burdens in adolescence can promote continuing in education.
  • Intervention focusing exclusively on delaying marriage or stopping FGM/C may not ensure that girls will have a better adult life. Interventions should address all important life trajectories – schooling, work and marriage – so that girls can achieve successful transitions from childhood into adulthood. Winning hearts and minds by involving girls, parents, boyfriends, prospective husbands, community and religious leaders, as well as schools, clubs, youth and women’s groups is likely to be more effective than simply strict legal enforcement and punishments of offenders.
  • There is a need for greater inter-sectoral coordination on violence, following on from the work of the inter-ministerial committee on violence affecting women and children, to create awareness and implement national policies and plans, and foster greater collaboration within government and with other stakeholders. Initiatives to prevent and address violence affecting children must reach down from the federal level to the regions, woredas, and especially the kebele and community levels where the violence occurs. Health Extension Workers and Social Workers as well as schools and school clubs can play key roles in countering and addressing violence.
  • In urban relocation, as well as housing more emphasis should be given to basic infrastructure, health facilities, day care centres, pre-schools, playgrounds, youth and communal centres, which should be in place before people are moved. The condominium design should pay more attention to safety features for children and prioritising ground floor access for the elderly, the sick and the less mobile. Improved transport links, as well as income generation schemes, employment opportunities and credit programmes could facilitate transitions to newly developed areas.