Afar Pastoralists Development Association (APDA) – Ethiopia

Afar Pastoralists Development Association (APDA) works on a wide variety of projects to contribute to the development and well-being of the Afar people, many of them focusing on vulnerable women and children, including mobile health and vaccination, water provision and harvesting, maternal and child health activities, and education for Afar children.

APDA also supports projects to help people with their livelihoods such as improving animal husbandry, along with protecting and managing the unique Afar environment. In all their projects, APDA works with communities to build relationships and knowledge so that the Afar people take the lead in their own development. APDA also undertakes relief work in times of crisis such as drought.

“Women need a seat at the table, they need an invitation to be seated there, and in some cases, where this is not available, they need to create their own table. We need a global understanding that we cannot implement change effectively without women’s political participation.”Meghan Markle

The organization was started in 1994 as a small group of volunteers bringing health awareness to the pastoralist community. At the time, the Afar society was described as 2% literate (1994 Government Household Census) and had no access to health services or education.

Following the existing pattern in the community of traditional healers and Koranic teachers, APDA has modeled a system of mobile health and education currently reaching out to remote communities in 22 woredas. Over the years, the system has taught around 245,000 pastoralists to read and write Afar and to understand basic math and is now providing primary health care based on health education to around 710,000 people.

APDA works to eradicate traditional practices that are harmful and against women’s rights and dignity and enable Afar women to develop their full capacity. APDA works to create models for developing fragile, vulnerable, and unique eco-systems and the socio-cultural systems in this region that could be adopted by regional governments, and professional and environmental groups.

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Afar region, Ethiopia