Improving the Lives of Vulnerable Migrant Girls and Young Women

General Objective: To reduce social, health and economic vulnerabilities of disadvantaged migrant girls and young women in Addis Ababa.

Beneficiaries: Vulnerable Migrant Female Youth (15-29)

Area of Operation: All Sub Cities of Addis Ababa

Project Duration: From June 2014 to August 2016

Donor: The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Project Justification:

In Ethiopia many adolescent girls migrate from rural to urban areas and abroad to escape poverty, early marriage, marriage by abduction and looking for a better life. The rural-urban migration trend in Ethiopia can be explained by a number of factors like being overpopulation, youth landlessness, famine, poverty, land scarcity, lack of agricultural resources and insignificant rural job creation. In addition, the migrant adolescents and young women labor migrants currently face physical and sexual abuse, unsafe home and various SRH problems since they arrive without the necessary psychological and social preparation.

In order to improve the above mentioned problems and impediments, creating opportunity for vocational and life skill trainings and organizing safe home for safe stay for vulnerable migrant girls and young women and build a better tomorrow for these groups have significant public importance. The FDRE government has recently made an important progress towards the advancement of the lives of migrants’ especially on deported migrants from the Middle East area but we have a lot to do with regard to these vulnerable migrant groups on local as well as international migrants.

This two and half years project was instigated by the Nia Foundation in partnership with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in January 2014, with an aim of reducing social, health and economic vulnerability of disadvantaged migrant girls and young women. It has specific components like increasing the level of income & awareness of migrant and disadvantaged girls and young women forced and/or pushed to commercial sex work by facilitating alternative livelihood opportunities, prevent HIV/AIDS, unplanned pregnancy, unsafe abortion and GBV among migrant girls and young women, organize national brainstorming workshop for government officials, religious, and community leaders on the issue of vulnerable migrant girls and young women, organize community awareness events regarding vulnerable migrant girls and young women at social institutions (‘Idirs’), religious institutions and sub city women, youth and resident groups levels, assist government to set up two protection/ safe centers for vulnerable and migrant girls and young women and assess the socio economic status of vulnerable migrant girls in the project areas and measure the project outputs and outcomes by administering different monitoring and evaluation tools.

Specific Objectives:

  • Increase the level of income & awareness of migrant and disadvantaged girls and young women forced and/or pushed to commercial sex work by facilitating alternative livelihood opportunities
  • Prevent HIV/AIDS, unplanned pregnancy, unsafe abortion and GBV among migrant girls and young women
  • Organize national brainstorming workshop for government officials, religious, and community leaders on the issue of vulnerable migrant girls and young women
  • Organize community awareness events regarding vulnerable migrant girls and young women at social institutions (‘Idir’), religious institutions and sub city women, youth and resident groups level
  • Assist government to set up two protection/ safe centers for vulnerable and migrant girls and young women
  • Assess the socio-economic status of vulnerable migrant girls in the project areas and measure the project outputs by monitoring and evaluation

Overview of Major Achievements

1. Activities achieved related to Sink Bet Safe Center

  • Establish Temporary Safe Center/Sink Bet: Sink Bet Youth Center is a temporary save haven for migrant and vulnerable young girls. The essence of establishing the protection home / Safe Haven was all about arranging a place for the newcomer migrant girls to stay in for 2-3 months and consider their options before they are thrown into the big city uninformed and without any psychological readiness. This can be also a way to protect them from some people who eagerly await them to take an unfair advantage by linking them to unsafe engagements such as commercial sex work, exotic massage and nude dance. The protection home was set up in a convenient location in Addis Ababa with the capacity of 50 girls per batch. The protection home had communal bed rooms, basic kitchen materials & facilities, and tools for keeping personal and environmental hygiene. Besides serving as a shelter, it also offered the girls an opportunity to get acquainted with the urban way of life and to acquire basic housekeeping and cooking skills during the project period.


  • Beneficiary Tracking: with direct involvement of the community and civic associations as well as in connection with government structures, one thousand one hundred and nine (1,109) beneficiaries were screened from Arada, Ledeta, Yeka, Kirkos, Gulelle, Nefas Silk Lafto, Addis Ketema, and Kolfe sub city during the project period. Passing through various screening process of filtering out the right beneficiaries, only 360 beneficiaries have been able to join the safe center.


  • Life Skill and Reproductive Health Training: life skills and reproductive health training was at the center of the trainings that have been provided for all of the 360 beneficiaries. Accordingly, the life skill training mainly focused on practical skill development including friendship and relationship, communication, confidence and self-esteem building, decision making, coping stress, goal setting and changes. The Reproductive health training also included issues such as; importance of reproductive health for youth, contraception use, prevention of HIV/AIDS & STIs, prevention of unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion,  positive sexual choices; informed decisions on  sexuality; practicing healthy sexual behaviors; recognizing and avoiding risky sexual situations and behaviors. These comprehensive life skill and reproductive health training were rendered throughout the period of the beneficiaries stay at the sink-bet classified in sessions. It was found to be helpful in developing the physical and health, intellectual and psycho-social capability of beneficiaries, by means of informing them and making them ready for their futures life challenges.

Generally, according to post graduate supervisions, most of the beneficiaries reported that they are now in the continuum of taking much better decisions in regard to their RH issues and way of life than ever before.


  • Health Service and Medical Checkup: More than 163 beneficiaries have been able to receive different sorts of medical attentions during their stay for pre-existing reproductive health problems, chronic illnesses as well as illnesses that have occurred/developed while they are in Sink bet. Regarding this, we had prior arrangements of referral linkage with Nifas Silk Sub city, Woreda 2 Health center and accordingly the beneficiaries were referred to the health center to receive appropriate medical treatments which were reported to be satisfactory by all referred. At times when complicated cases were identified, referrals were made to Hospitals as well for proper management.

Moreover, two beneficiaries that were identified to be pregnant which were reported by the beneficiaries as being a result of rape/sexual abuse or an act of prostitution and found to be helpless were allowed to give birth and have got all comprehensive services and stayed for extra days beyond the regular training period in Sink -bet. Apart from that, there were a total of nine beneficiaries with a report of pregnancy that were taking an active part in the referral linkage system that we created for reproductive health and medical attention purposes.

  • Group and Individual Counseling: All beneficiaries (360) received group and individual counseling during their stay at Sink bet. The Counseling mainly focused on problems that may be encountered in their daily life related to role confusion, stress coping, preparing them for mental and psychological readiness in tackling their own and others’ problems.


  • Shopping Exercise: All beneficiaries (360) have practiced shopping exercise. This helped them in assimilating and adapting beneficiaries to city ways of shopping style. Accordingly, we made them to go to supermarkets and buy goods which are used for food preparation trainings. Such a simple effort of making them along to new settings has boosted their confidence in trying new things and learning new skills. In the process, they have improved their communication skills.


  • Cooking and Housekeeping Training: All beneficiaries (360) have been provided with cooking and housekeeping training. The training included cultural and modern types of food preparation, keeping clean households using different. These training has capacitated the beneficiaries and acquire the necessary skills that helps them get better employments as well as get ready if plan to safe travel to the middle east with an aim of domestic working.


  • Family Reunification: 3 targeted beneficiaries were reunified with their families after short stay at the sink-bet and receiving counseling services. Creating linkage with their respective woreda microfinance to facilitate vocational skill training and IGA engagement was done; monthly follow-up was part of the assignment to track their progress. Most of the other beneficiaries were found to be uninterested to reunify with their families and return to their origins. Mostly, it was because they have made up their minds and want to make a living in the capital city or abroad only in fear of all the challenges (i.e. economic, traditional and cultural setbacks) that they think have escaped by migrating.


  • Vocation Skills Training and Job Placement: 173 beneficiaries received training on business development skills (BDS) and following that, based on their interests, they also were provided with vocational skill trainings in the areas of Tailoring and detergent production. Finally, after passing through of the rigorous training and preparatory task, startup capital was deposited in their respective bank accounts and linkages to microfinances were made to create a sustainable system to support their businesses.


2. Set up Protection/ Safe Center for vulnerable and migrant girls and young women

In most of migrant and vulnerable young girl’s life one deadly night could invert the whole future of a victim. Regarding this, one of the major project activities was aimed at setting up/arranging a Safe Center/shelter at the most appropriate location in the city of Addis Ababa. Accordingly, Akaki Kality Sub City, woreda 7 police station was selected due to its prior readiness to collaboration and proximity to one of the major cross country bus station; which is the first foot touch for many migrant girls to the capital city.

Therefore, the sub city police regiment/office was capacitated to have full-fledged Safe Center within the station which has two separate rooms with a capacity of accommodating up to 12 vulnerable young girls per night. During its inauguration, the Center was recognized as the first Model Safe Center for Young girls in the city and the Addis Ababa Police Commission has shown its commitment to collaborate in expanding and replicating such best practice in to other sub cities.

3. Community mobilization and awareness engagements with Idirs, Religious Institutions, Civic Associations and other Community Groups

One of the major objective of this project was to increase the  awareness of   communities on challenges of vulnerable and migrant girls and young women through conducting consecutive awareness creation  events in collaboration with  government officials, religious and community leaders; ‘Idir’ members, religious institutions and sub city and woreda women, youth and resident groups. To achieve this outcome, we have successfully undertaken the following activities.

  • Organizing National Brainstorming Workshop focusing on challenges of vulnerable migrant girls and young women: For the purpose of creating a medium for brainstorming the issue of vulnerable migrant girls and young women and their challenges among relevant stakeholders, we have organized successfully a national brainstorming workshop in collaboration with Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) involving participants from MoLSA, University, College and High School teachers, students and representatives, Religious leaders, Social institutions, Professional and community associations, Mass Medias, GO & NGOs, Partners, Artists, Influential individuals, Volunteers and other community members. More than 770 participants were involved in the event. Behavior change Communication (BCC) materials like 810 brochures, 20 posters and 3 banners were also produced and disseminated at the event.

This initial awareness raising platform laid the foundation for the successive events that took place at different community levels to escalating mass communication on the challenges of vulnerable migrant girls and young women with the aim of initiating positive actions towards reducing the burden of these groups following the national brainstorming workshop as discussed below.

  • Planning Workshop: Community level awareness raising campaign was commenced following the national brainstorming workshop by organizing community representatives planning meeting held at National Hotel with an attendance of 58 leaders/representatives of concerned government offices, various community based organizations and religious institutions with the aim of preparing synchronized and common plan of action to organize consecutive community awareness events at various levels. Accordingly, we have managed to produce synchronized plan of actions shared among all stakeholders to cascade the awareness raising events organizations.


  • Community Awareness Events For Idir Members, Religious Institutions And Sub Cities’ Women, Youth And Residents Groups: Following the community representatives planning workshop, we have started conducting community awareness events on the issue of youth, their migration and vulnerability in relation to what communities can do to prevent the problem and the role of families in protecting their young ones in five selected sub cities in collaboration with community based organizations (i.e. Idirs) and respective sub city Social and Labor Affairs offices. More than 10,000 attendance of community members have be registered in four rounds events on average during the project period; though double count could be a potential bias as regular Idir members could repeatedly attend. The extensive and rigorous discussion platforms resulted on mobilizing ideas and resources from the Idirs themselves and they have now are in shape to sustainably work on continuously raising awareness on youth vulnerability and two of them especially strategized to economically support vulnerable youth to stay at school covering their educational expenses.

In collaboration with five selected sub cities’ (namely, Nifas Silk Lafto, Yeka, Gulele, Kolfe, and Addis Ketema) Women, Youth and Children Affairs Offices, we have also organized community awareness events among various community group members including Youth Associations, Forums, Women Groups, Residents’ Forums, etc… More than a 1000 members and leaders of the above mentioned associations and groups have participated in the sensitization workshops organized in the respective sub cities; which was later followed by cascading the awareness to their respective structure members in their specific localities (i.e. woredas). In total we have reached more than 50,000 targeted youth, women and key leaders with potential to reach further community groups.

More than twenty (20) religious organizations of different constituency selected from the above mentioned five sub cities have taken an active part in conducting consecutive community awareness events on youth migration and related vulnerability to their followers. The events were attended by more than 50,000 religious followers from various religious order to bring a desired change against the problem within a period of four months duration.


  • IEC and Media Engagement

Media advocacy was one of important project activities to promote the very objective of the project. Accordingly, more than four thousand copies of different brochures were distributed to various stakeholders in places such as community based organizations, religious organization, and concerned government office which helped to raise awareness on problems related to vulnerable and migrant young girls and to promote solidarity of the community on the important issue of resolving the problems. In addition to that, audio CDs were also prepared that focused on Sink Bet service and delivered to transport sectors in four core direction of the city so that it would be promoted during transportation services so as to inform the new coming migrants.

Moreover, TV and Radio spots with a duration of 60 and 45 seconds respectively were produced and has been transmitted on EBC and three different radio stations widely addressing the project target population from different corners. The messages were directed to the target with a purpose of addressing the issue of youth vulnerability, their risky migration along with trafficking, as well as with key messages on what the community could do to prevent such risks and negative outcomes.


  • We have also learned that the safe center have served a great deal of use (i.e. a lifesaving role) to the targeted beneficiaries as most of them were in and prone to addiction and in relation to their economic, health and social vulnerability; they were even at a risk of committing suicides. The safe center (i.e. sink bet) is really their place of protection and self-remedy with the individual oriented counseling services provided by the organization, though we need to focus on more economical ways of setting up such a system
  • If not similar to that of sink-bet’s standard, government/public owned temporary shelters are mandatory to be made available as the unavailability of such services and the vulnerability of these migrating vulnerable young girls are the most overlooked and totally unaddressed in the circumstances of the country and its capital city. We have learnt that police as a frontline protector of all citizens, shall be the ideal point of such services outlet and needs to be exploited further as its system have the capacity to support such initiatives.
  • We also learnt comprehensive rehabilitation program (life skill, reproductive health, health education, experience sharing, practical livelihood trainings…etc.) result in a more responsive progressive behavioral and skill change on targeted beneficiaries making them less vulnerable in their future engagements
  • Advanced communication and collaboration with the relevant government stakeholders is the other major lesson we have learnt from the project execution, as we have seen how crucial it would be in the process of bringing in the right types of beneficiaries and how it would be difficult to do so in the absence of it.
  • We have learned that migrant girls have real potential to change and progress toward  betterment of life if  they access little assistance
  • We learnt that compared to the vastness of the challenges faced by vulnerable and migrating young women, it require a lot of strong and consistent partnerships and collaborations among various stakeholders to tackle the cause of migration and reduce their vulnerability
  • Advocacy and lobby is required to continue so as to address the socio-economic problems of Ethiopian youth especially young girls
  • Migrant women come from different corners of the country to Addis Ababa through various ways of transportation. Thus we have learnt that working with the transport sector and targeting public transport stations is important to easily access migrant women and reach them with appropriate messages right on time.
  • Working closely with microfinance offices makes project IGA interventions more effective and sustainable