The Situation on Site

Ethiopia is still one of the poorest countries on earth, with a population of approx. 80 million and an average annual per-capita income of of approx. US$ 220. The majority of the population live on the absolute margins of poverty. In the Human Development Index, Ethiopia ranks 169th among 177 countries. More than 50% of the population are illiterate. Although school attendance is officially mandatory, by no means all children go to school. They are often left to their own devices until they are old enough to work. In the cities, about 70% of the children attend primary school, and about 40% go on to secondary school. Girls even more rarely have the opportunity to go to school, because they must help with housework starting at the age of four. And the situation in rural areas is far more difficult. Also, AIDS is widespread in Ethiopia: it is estimated that about 1.2 million children are AIDS orphans, for whom support services are problematic.

The situation of women is particularly difficult. The percentage of women who can read and write is far less than that of men. Even today, girls are often forced to marry the suitor offering the most money and are still often victims of genital mutilation. A woman cannot inherit her father’s property, not even that of her husband. If she has no children or has only given birth to girls, she is not allowed to remain on her deceased husband’s land.

The city of Adigrat is located in the north of Ethiopia, near the border with Eritrea, and has a current population of approx. 150,000. Due to its proximity to the border, the city especially suffered in the course of more than 20 years of war with Eritrea. Adigrat is still a goal for many refugees. The city’s infrastructure is very inadequate: only a few households have running water, there is only one paved street, only one hospital, and far too few schools and kindergartens. Particularly children between the ages of three and six are often left on their own, have few opoortunities to develop in ways suitable for children or be prepared for possible attendance at school. Above all, girls have hardly any oportunities for development since they must take on a continually increasing share of housework, starting at the age of four or five.

Analysis of the situation on location showed that, although a few kindergartens do exist, they are very insufficient in view of the number of inhabitants. In addition, the few existing kindergartens are located in the northern or central parts of Adigrat, while the now densely-settled southern part of the city has had no facilities of this kind until now.