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Refuges and Returnees

The Ethiopian Orthodox began its apostolic mission of helping refugees before 1965 by forming an ad hock committee. In 1965, Refugee Counseling Service was formed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, UNHCR, the World Council of Churches (WCC), and the International University Fund to address the demand of Southern Sudanese Refugees in Southern Ethiopia. The Refugee and Returnee affairs Department was later established in 1971 following agreement among United Nations higher Commissioner for Refugees and the International University Exchange Fund, the World Council of Churches and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. Currently, the Department under the auspices of DICAC is mainly at the forefront to fulfill the words of God, which says,

To this effect, the Department has the following objectives:

  • Helping refugees get their basic needs (food, shelter, clothing and medication) and follow-up their social well-being,
  • Enabling them to become either skilled middle level or professional workers through education,
  • Equipping them with skills through vocational training to help them generate income while they are here in the country of asylum or upon repatriations their country of origin,
  • Supporting  and rehabilitating refugees and returnees to lead their normal life,
  • Advocating for durable solution of refugees and displaced people,
  • Enhancing conditions (common values)that connect village leaders, church fathers, women’s groups, citizens, etc in a way that lay the foundation for trust building and peace making,
  • Creating awareness among refugee communities about the characters and features of HIVAIDS pandemic.

Health and Social Affair Program

The major part of the organization in prevention and controlling HIV/AIDS has been focusing on an extensive awareness campaign, providing both information and education about HIV and AIDS and emphasizing the power of the spiritual and moral values of the faith in inspiring behaviors that will preventing the spread of the disease.

  • Promoting Abstinence & Faithfulness messages on HIV/AIDS
  • Care and support for PLHIV through training and providing seed money,
  • Creating favorable opportunities to Orphans and Vulnerable groups,
  • Building the capacity of Theological colleges, Clergy Training Centers, Sunday Schools, Traditional schools and University to integrate health and social issues in their training curricula,
  • Conducting domestic resource mobilization and various community support programs to sustainably support OVC and other vulnerable groups,
  • Addressing Harmful Practices (HPs) mainly ending early  child marriage, Gender Based Violence, Female  Genital Mutilation and other domestic violence,
  • Reducing the burden of RH problems mainly Adolescent and Youth Reproductive Health through Developmental Bible,
  • Addressing malnutrition through Maternal and Child Nutrition promotion by conducting Enhanced Community Conversation (ECC)
  • Promoting Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH)

Water supply, sanitation, hygiene promotion and environmental protection

Communities living in the rural parts of Ethiopia are hardly having access to clean and potable water, while big rivers flow across these rural areas. Lack of access to clean drinking water coupled with inadequate sanitation facilities and poor level of community awareness on hygiene largely account for water – borne and other related diseases. Further, it causes women, girls and children to travel long distances to fetch water, which interfere with the children’s regular school attendance.

To ease the adverse consequences of chronic shortage of water, DICAC by the virtue of its funding partners has expanded its interventions in the water and sanitation sector. To this effect, in 1988 the Commission established a water unit in collaboration with Water Aid – UK, one of the largest funding partners of DICAC.  Later, this unit was promoted to department level and has expanded its horizons with the objectives of:-

  • Improving the health status of the disadvantaged communities, specifically the rural and semi-urban dwellers of the country.
  • Taking part in the country’s development endeavor using the existing Orthodox Tewahdo church structural network from grass root level to the top level that give a good opportunity for sustainable development
  •  Giving awareness on environmental sanitation, personal hygiene and water-borne diseases through continuous health education and training
  • Providing clean, safe and adequate water at low cost in a community level with manageable technologies by promoting “User pays” principle so that financial sustainability will be ensured,
  • Capacitating and empowering the target communities by giving pertinent trainings such as water technician training, water and sanitation committees training, community hygiene promoters training,  clergymen and Kebele leaders training, generators and motor operators training etc.,
  • Taking part in the establishment and strengthening of the wereda water desks in DICAC intervention weredas, which will assist the community in operation and maintenance after handing over to users,
  • Satisfying the water supply requirements of beneficiary communities, livestock and use of the excess water for traditional irrigation and other sanitation facilities that contribute to health and better quality of life when the condition permits,
  • Enhancing genuine community participation for sustainability of the projects outcomes and replication.

Rural livelihood improvement and food security

More than 85% of the total populations of Ethiopia earn their living from agriculture, in which rain-fed cereal production takes the lion's share. As a result of the unpredictable rain and eventual drought crop production has failed to sustain the lives of the producers leave alone to contribute to the macro-economy of the country.  Therefore, Ethiopia has been one of the recipients of food assistance for decades. DICAC with four decades of experience in relief to development continuum has implemented food security and rural livelihood projects in most drought prone weredas of the country with the intention to address the food security situations of the vulnerable house holds (HH) with ultimate goal of reducing the number of persistently poor households of the target community. Moreover, environmental rehabilitation to communities through area enclosure, tree seedling production and distribution to the community and a culture of tree planting by the community is developing from time to time are also the mandates of DICAC food security projects.  In order to secure food at household level, DICAC uses different Strategic objectives (SOs) such as:

  • Improving agricultural production and productivity
  • Enhancing the environmental situation of the areas
  • Augmenting the Income Level of Vulnerable Households
  • Improving Family Health and Nutritional Status of households
  • Creation of  access to basic social services such health, education, rural road etc,
  • Enhancing local human capacities
  • Introducing appropriate practices such as alley cropping, multi purpose trees, demonstration of highland and lowland fruits and vegetables, forage seeds,
  • Introducing modern animal husbandry, veterinary services, etc
  • Capacitating the community  through training, demonstration, workshops and practical visits etc,
  • Implementing soil and water conservation measures (check dams, terraces, micro basin, bund formation, area closure, seedling production and planting, etc),
  • Constructing health posts, clinics,  and health centers and provision of essential drugs, equipment and furniture
  • Preventing and control of HIV/AIDS using  IEC/BCC materials,, promoting abstinence before marriage and faithfulness, counseling and spiritual support,  welfare support to the infected and affected, care and support to Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and VCT before marriage, etc
  • Constructing schools and provision of furniture and equipment to make the formal and non-formal education facilities smooth and create access to education
  • Organize, strengthen and support the communities to ask for better services from service providers

Inner-church programs

The Inner-church development program of DICAC aims to train & educate the clergies in achieving sustainable human development on one hand and to help the clergies to strengthen their capacities to lead the church, which can inspire and empower their congregations. It focuses on Sunday schools and parish council development. The major interventions are:-

  • Training of parishes, Sunday schools and clergies on environmental protection, agricultural development, leadership and HIV/AIDS prevention and control
  • Developing small-scale irrigation in monasteries, water supply and livelihood improvement projects such as dairy, fattening, bee keeping, carpet making, fishery, etc

Humanitarian Assistance and Rehabilitation

EOTC is recognized as often being the first to arrive at the scenes of disaster and helps to reduce human suffering with the following prime interventions:

  • Provide emergency relief (grain, oil and supplementary foods for Children)
  • Rehabilitate the community after the disaster by providing oxen, farm tools, household utensils, seeds and other essential inputs in terms of food for work, cash for work or free distribution
  • Train the community on  community based disaster risk management,