I had the privilege of working on the E-FACE (Ethiopians Fighting Against Child Exploitation) project during its last year of implementation, during which time I was able to research and consolidate information on the project and how it worked with youth in Ethiopia. The project worked with both youth and adults to address the issue of exploitative labour.
Above: MEDA’s Farah Chandani with youth from the Building Skills for Life Program
Working with families to increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods, the project was able to reduce the inclination and vulnerability of close to 8,000 households towards engaging in exploitative child labour. Activities with these households depended on their geography and economic base – ranging from: support to market linkages in the traditional weaving sector; to cultivation of improved potatoes for sale and consumption; to the distribution of goats for asset building; and to improved access to financial services through Village Savings and Loan Associations. Perhaps the most innovative aspect of programming under the market linkages component was the development of a Child Safe Certification Standards and a Child Safe Label for traditional textiles in Ethiopia. The project was able to create a partnership among government, designers, private sector and other stakeholders to establish a process and system to identify and distinguish weaving products that are produced free of child/youth labor.
Working with youth in or at high-risk of entering exploitative labour, the project was able to increase the resilience of over 3,000 youth and create opportunities for non-exploitative and decent futures for them. The project was able to implement a number of different interventions targeting youth:
- Occupational Health and Safety training for youth and their employers/business owners working in traditional textiles, and a Business Owners Incentives plan for employers of young people in order to provide them with incentives to increase wages for their young employees and to improve working conditions.
- Formal and informal education/skills training which linked youth to services based on the most suitable option for them. Skills training was provided youth using MEDA’s Building Skills for Life curriculum which targeted urban youth in the traditional weaving sector and rural youth as Agriculture Sales Agents. In addition, some youth were linked to Technical Vocation Education Training, ranging from service-based careers to retail and entrepreneurial programs. A small number of youth (153 girls and 112 boys) were enrolled in formal education programs to continue their schooling.
- Financial literacy and access to finance for youth in all the interventions was promoted through the establishment of Village Savings Associations for Youth (VSAYs). A total of 133 groups were established with 1,730 youth (40% female, 60% male), and 858 of these youth were linked to formal financial service institutions.
Above: Young girls (not project clients) in Addis wanting to take their photos with MEDA’s Farah Chandani
There is much more to say about E-FACE and the lives it has touched, including the dedicated MEDA staff in Ethiopia who ensured that the project achieved its targets. It is with a heavy heart that MEDA’s work on the E-FACE project comes to an end; but we remain hopeful that the changes made in young people’s lives will be sustained for years to come.
All E-FACE related publications can be found on the MEDA Youth website.