ESSSWA is currently implementing a project funded by UNICEF entitled Strengthening Capacities of TVET colleges, OCCAC and Service Providing Institutions for Training and Deployment of Skilled social service workforce Project (SCOTSPI). The project has primarily aimed at improving the wellbeing of vulnerable children and their care givers by improving the existing social service delivery system. However, the unexpected and rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Particularly vulnerable groups such as children are the hardest hit by the deadly pandemic with a sharp rise in violence against children. To curb the spread of the disease, the national response plan was launched by the Government of Ethiopia at federal and regional levels, including declaration of state of emergency and issuance of specific directives to enforce social/physical distancing, travel restrictions, use of face masks and also restrictions of public gatherings and closure of schools, colleges and universities.
As a result, community service work training supported through the UNICEF-ESSSWA partnership was put on hold. To contribute to the national COVID-19 response, the UNICEF and ESSSWA revised their partnership and included child protection interventions with a focus on strengthening the social service workforce to ensure continuity of life saving services. This includes prevention and response to child protection risks such as family separation, gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, and other forms of violence against children such as child marriage.
ESSSWA deployed and trained 5 senior social workers/supervisors, and 50 social workers at federal and regional levels who are directly working and supporting community service workers working with vulnerable children and care givers. The trained supervisors and social workers roll out information education and communication (IEC) on COVID-19, including prevention of transmission, self-care methods, Child protection case management, child protection and gender-based violence (GBV) concerns and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) with a focus on psychological first aid to 1000 community service workers in Amhara, Oromia, Afar, SNNP, Benishangul Gumuz, Somali, Tigray and Gambella regional states in collaboration with the regional BoWCYA and BoLSA.