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First impressions of Addis, Ethiopia

Flying into Addis on 17 January, your first impression of the surrounding  countryside is of a thick, soft carpet of different beige, brown and reddish colours which rolls up and down gently over the hills. Addis, at 8,000 ft, benefits from a lovely mild climate, although don’t try to hold a conversation walking up flights of stairs as you’ll be too out of breath!

The Save the Children UK office in Addis is a short drive from the airport, and although it is looking a little tired (could do with a lick of bright paint and some more posters and signs), everyone is incredibly friendly, welcoming, hard-working and passionate. My task here for the next five weeks is to try to ensure greater visibility of all the Save the Children UK Every One work here and to work out ways in which we can ensure greater visibility in the long term.  

On day three – Wednesday 19 Jan, it was Timkat – a national holiday here and nationwide festival celebrating the baptism of Christ. The streets were decorated in bright coloured banners and all over Addis there were groups gathered, dancing, singing and promoting their local church – the festive spirit in the air is infectious!

On day five (Friday 21 Jan) I attended a short film screening evening hosted by the Ethiopian Film Institute, which focused on pollution and climate awareness. One in particular stood out – the pollution of the Akaki river, which runs through Addis Ababa, is being caused by almost all of the 50 factories (ranging from textiles, to tanneries to metalwork)  in Addis who are dumping their untreated waste into the river. The Ph levels in the river are extremely toxic and break all international standards. As a result, the local fruit and veg is also being infused with these toxins, and communities downstream are using and bathing in this poisonous water. A tiny minority of these factories have taken measures to treat and cool their waste before releasing it into the river – I just hope now increased pressure mounts on the rest to follow suit……

There is so much amazing work going on by Save the Children in Ethiopia – I’ll try to get some colleagues here sharing more with you about their work more regularly.  I’m now spending this week in the South Wollo zone visiting some of the health projects Save the Children is doing– so I’ll send another update soon!

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