Remarks by Ambassador Patricia Haslach at the Launching of a new World Vision Project

Remarks by
Patricia Haslach
U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
Launching of a new World Vision Project

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa 

(As prepared for delivery) 

Salem new! Good morning to everyone here this morning and thank you for coming to this very important event marking the completion of one successful project and the launching a new one. The issue is child labor, and we are here today to unite and rally together in fighting against this scourge.

I would first like to thank Margaret Schuler of World Vision for inviting me to speak today on this important topic. I would also like to thank the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs for all the support it has given to the implementation of this project. Finally, I would also like to thank the U.S. Department of Labor for generously providing the financial support to make these projects a reality.

Today is an especially important day because together with World Vision Ethiopia we are marking the successful completion of the “Ethiopians Fighting Against Child Exploitation (E-FACE)” project and the launching of the follow-on “Engaged, Educated, Empowered, Ethiopian Youth (E4Y)” project.

E-FACE, which is just finishing, was a four-year $10 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor aiming to reduce child labor in areas which have traditionally depended heavily on child workers locally or sent young children to larger towns, often to work in the textile sector. Implemented by World Vision, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), and the Mission for Community Development Program (MCDP), the project takes a comprehensive approach to the problem of child labor by promoting educational opportunities for vulnerable youth while also focusing on improving the livelihoods of 7,000 households in communities where child labor has traditionally been a primary source of income. The project, which is closely aligned with Ethiopia’s National plan of action to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, also helps target communities develop their child labor monitoring, reporting, and referral systems.

E4Y, which we are launching today, is also a $10 million four-year project funded by U.S. Department fop Labor with an additional cost share from World Vision of a little over $1 million. It aims to address exploitative child labor in Ethiopia by promoting education and vocational training opportunities for target youth and enhancing livelihoods opportunities and access to social protection programs for youth and their households. The project targets 12,000 male and female youth and aims to reach 7,500 households in the Amhara and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions of Ethiopia. In collaboration with partners, local government, and communities, the project will engage efforts to: 1) Increase educational attainment and address education gender gaps for targeted male and female youth; 2) Improve access to acceptable and decent work opportunities for targeted youth aged 14-17; 3) Achieve enhanced access to livelihoods for youth and their households; 4) Increase community engagement and leadership opportunities for targeted youth; and 5) Improve access to social protection programs for targeted youth and their households.

In December of last year Minister Abdulfatah and I jointly visited E-FACE project sites in SNNPR. We toured three rehabilitated primary schools in areas identified as major transit points or sources of trafficked children. In the Chencha district of Gamo Gofa Zone we saw incredible work going on at a school that services more than 400 at risk students. Thanks to the E-FACE project, schools like this one have been able to improve facilities and gain better access to educational services. As a result, student retention rates are on the rise. Across the country, every day more students are in classrooms, getting the education they need to ensure a brighter future.

During our trip we also visited a textile cooperative that provides livelihood alternatives to families who might otherwise depend on child labor. At the Tsigereda Textile Weaver Cooperative in Arba Minch I saw twenty weavers who, with the help of E-FACE, were able to reach markets in Addis Ababa for the first time ever. Their products are child-labor free, child safe-certified and now even powered by solar panels. In Ziway we toured AQ Rose Company, where a PEPFAR-funded project implements prevention, education, and referral services for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Through a $20 million grant the United States government is now supporting more than 90 such projects, aimed to prevent the health-related problems that can destroy an individual’s ability to earn a decent living.

I want to take a moment to recognize Minister Abdulfatah, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and all the various Ethiopian Government officials who are working diligently to combat the interrelated scourges of child labor and child trafficking. MOLSA has proven itself to be a committed partner in this fight, and the ministry’s continued support is key to our ongoing efforts. Both of the projects highlighted today align closely with Ethiopia’s National Action Plan to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor. This document, along the new Anti-Trafficking Proclamation and the pending Overseas Employment Proclamation, provides a powerful foundation for our ongoing efforts.

The E-FACE and E4Y projects are perfect examples of the kind of cooperation it takes to combat these seemingly-intractable problems. The funding for these projects comes from the US Department of Labor, but success relies upon the skillful implementation of World Vision, the Mennonite Economic Development Associates, the Mission for Community Development Program, and the countless other local and international NGOs who advise and assist these efforts. Most importantly, it is the Ethiopian people themselves upon whom our ultimate success depends. Funding and expertise would be nothing without community involvement, and in every community I’ve visited, I’ve seen a determination to overcome these challenges and find lasting solutions that protect and empower children.

These projects represent some of the best forms of partnership between the United Sates and Ethiopia, and some of the most important. Overall, the U.S. government provides extensive support to GOE’s development investments and provides approximately $750 million annually in assistance to Ethiopia. Ethiopia also benefits from tariff-free access to the American market through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (known as AGOA).

The United States is also the leading bilateral donor for relief efforts to combat the effects of the ongoing drought, which has been exacerbated by al-Nino. In 2015 alone, the United States Government provided more than $120 million in emergency food assistance. At every step the United States Government has risen to the occasion and responded to the Government of Ethiopia’s emergency requests, as well as providing sustained support for the government’s safety net programs and resilience promotion in our own development programs..

The United States works to promote democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. This includes human trafficking and child labor. Through our annual reporting – the Human Rights Report, the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report, and the Trafficking in Persons Report – we highlight both the challenges and the successes of countries around the world. As our friends in the diplomatic and NGO community can attest, these reports are used to inform government policy and development initiatives worldwide. Although many of the reports track incredible progress – including here in Ethiopia with the ongoing work against trafficking — we don’t shy away from pointing out where more work needs to be done. In conversations with our Ethiopian colleagues we speak frankly about ongoing challenges. As President Obama said in 2013, “Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it.”

Again, I want to thank our partners from World Vision, the Government of Ethiopia, and all the other groups represented here today. E-FACE has already contributed to the well-being of thousands, and I am confident E4Y will do the same. We share a responsibility to continue the fight against child labor and child trafficking. It is a challenge that cannot be overcome by any one of us alone. Together – and in partnership with the local communities – I know we can rise to the occasion.

Thank you. I look forward to our continued work together.