As a direct success story of an earlier intervention piloted by DSW Ethiopia, youth at workplace have drawn prime attention from major development stakeholders. On 17 March 2023, DSW, along with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ministry of Women & Social Affairs (MoWSA) accompanied a high-level team of UNFPA senior officials led by Mrs. Lydia Zipomo, Director of the Eastern and Southern Regions undertook a half-day tour of DSW’s project at Bole-Lemi Industrial Park. This high-level visit was realised by UNFPA, whose technical and financial support of the project since 2019 has impacted the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) wellbeing of youth working in industrial parks.
Impressed by coordinated efforts sought among project stakeholders intent on addressing the SRH needs of youth at workplace, Mrs. Zipomo praised DSW for taking a leading role in attaining this partnership with UNFPA.
In his response, the Country Director of DSW Ethiopia, Feyera Assefa, who earlier briefed the visiting stakeholders on the progress of the project, also acknowledged UNFPA’s keen development commitment in Ethiopia. He further encouraged the MoH to do more in the implementation of the Minimum Service Package (MSP) scheme recently introduced and originally initiated based on the lessons learned from the very intervention DSW engaged in the industrial parks under the auspices of the MoH.
According to Dr. Mesert Zelalem of the MoH “from the first phase that this very project was launched way back in 2019, the Ministry of Health continues its commitment as a prime stakeholder by paying due attention. Since then we took the necessary lessons of the need for engaging more and more partners to scale up the workplace intervention. Thus far, we remain determined to expand and widely implement the Minimum Service Package (MSP) working with our development partners such as UNFPA, DSW and others. Because we, at MoH, do not take for granted the needs of youth’s SRH wellbeing, for without their health, there won’t be room for attaining sustainable development”, she emphasised.
Furthering her point, Meseret asserted that “as the industrial parks primly became the center of gravity for youth SRH intervention, workplace intervention is one of the most important thematic focuses upon which our hope hinges to attain a fair share of the demographic dividend.”
The State Minster of the MoWSA for Youth Affairs, Mrs. Muna Ahmed recognised the synergy and an enabling environment created by DSW for enhanced outcomes of this project focusing on the SRH needs of youth working at the industrial parks. “Given the high vulnerability of youth to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), among others, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy, UNFPA’s support for the implementation of this project contributes in many significant ways to our overall efforts of development,” the State Minister emphasised.
On his part, representing the Industrial Park Development Corporation (IPDC), a state-owned entity, Tinsae Yimam, manager Bole-Lemi IP, expressed his appreciation of DSW’s courage in bringing in the project concept before any other civil society organisations ever foresaw its importance. “It was after DSW has designed and launched an intervention to address the needs of SRH among the bulge of youth working in many companies in the industrial parks, only then others recently started to flock on the path that was set by DSW four years back. In Bole-Lemi alone, there are about 23,000 youth working in different companies registered within the industrial park and nearly 80 percent of them are women whose ages range from 19 to 26. Across all industrial parks around the country, there are about 83,000 youth employees. This is a growing important development trend that Ethiopia is set to grow and develop, therefore, supporting and partnering an intervention such as the one being financed by the UNFPA and implemented by DSW will be the way forward,” Tinsae underlined his impression. He also acknowledged the 50th anniversary commemoration of UNFPA.
One of U.N’s most viable and visible agencies, UNFPA, commemorated its 50th Jubilee Anniversary in March 2023. Its staff members based across the world took excursion in study tours of the major development projects it has been supporting and partnering with. In Ethiopia, DSW’s project supported by the UNFPA was one of those success stories worth paying attention to after the MoH shortlisted it for the high-profile study tours on 17th March of 2023.