Abiy Expresses Commitment to Building Up-to-Standard Public Toilets Using Durable Materials

ADDIS ABABA — Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his commitment to building up-to-standard public toilets using durable materials and ensuring high-quality finishing. “When we called on our citizens, many enthusiastically joined the Clean Ethiopia initiative,” the premier wrote on X this morning. The main objective of this project is to revolutionize the culture of toilet usage by creating a welcoming environment.

According to Ethiopian News Agency, “Today, we are on-site to assess the progress made possible through the invaluable contributions and trust of our citizens. By using durable materials and ensuring high-quality finishing, we are committed to building up-to-standard public toilets.” Abiy affirmed that this is just the beginning and with continued support, the initiative aims to expand nationwide.

Prime Minister Abiy unveiled plans to construct modern, clean, and dignified public restrooms with strong community involvement in their construction last April. A digital telethon was held on May 12 this year to raise 50 million Birr in 10 hours for the Clean Ethiopia initiative. The Office of the Prime Minister disclosed that 154.5 million Birr was collected through the digital telethon, exceeding the planned target.

Several institutions and individuals participated in the telethon, with the community contributing 67.5 million Birr directly.

PM Abiy Says Public Spirit for Planting Is High

ADDIS ABABA — Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed stated that as Ethiopia progresses into its Green Legacy season, public enthusiasm for tree planting is high, with efforts already off to a strong start to meet the country’s ambitious targets. The Prime Minister made these comments while planting apple trees in Chaka, noting the significant changes in the area, which had previously been filled with eucalyptus trees.

According to Ethiopian News Agency, these eucalyptus trees have been removed to allow for traditional terracing practices. “People from Harar and Konso have brought their timeless skill and practice of terracing to help with soil preservation,” he said. Abiy emphasized the importance of intensifying the Green Legacy initiative within cities to increase Addis Ababa’s green coverage, balancing urban development with environmental sustainability.

Over the past five years, Ethiopia has undertaken extensive tree planting activities, with 32.5 billion tree seedlings planted to date. The goal for this year is to reach 40 billion seedlings, moving towards an overall target of 50 billion. This planting cycle aims to plant 7.5 billion seedlings.

Ethiopia’s New Digital Strategy Poised to Transform Government’s Digital Future

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s Digital Government Strategy and Government Enterprise Architecture 2024-2029 is set to be a transformative blueprint for the government’s digital future, according to Innovation and Technology Minister Belete Molla. Speaking at a workshop for the final review of the new strategy, the minister highlighted the progress and future goals of the digital strategy.

According to Ethiopian News Agency, the new digital national e-government strategy builds on the successes and lessons learned from the ongoing strategy. “This strategy is not merely a document. It is a vision for a digitally empowered Ethiopia. It incorporates international best practices and adheres to key principles that will guide our digital transformation journey,” he stated.

The development of the current strategy has emphasized continuous stakeholder involvement and input collection. The workshop marks the final stage before the strategy is submitted for government approval. The Digital Government Strategy and Enterprise Architecture 2024-2029 was prepared by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology in partnership with DT-Global and with financial support from the European Union.

Addressing the workshop, Roberto Schiliro, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Ethiopia, emphasized that digital governance enables the government to provide efficient services. He noted that it is also an important step towards developing a market-led economy based on open communication and transparency. Schiliro reiterated the EU’s commitment to support Ethiopia in achieving its goals in digital transformation, improving the business environment, and enhancing the investment climate.

The comprehensive government enterprise architecture of Ethiopia, developed as part of the new e-government strategy, aims to ensure that the digital government ecosystem is built on a firm and scientific foundation, supporting the country’s broader digital transformation efforts.

PM Says Green Legacy Initiative Good Opportunity to Expand Indigenous Soil Preservation Knowledge

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s Green Legacy Initiative has created a conducive environment to expand indigenous knowledge on soil preservation across the country, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, First Lady Zinash Tayachew, and staff of the Office of the Prime Minister participated in a seedling planting event today.

According to Ethiopian News Agency, community members from Harar and Konso also participated in the planting activity held on terraces they built inside the Chaka Project using indigenous skills to preserve soil. The eucalyptus trees in the area have been replaced by indigenous tree seedlings.

During the planting, the Prime Minister stated that this year’s Green Legacy program would be carried out differently from previous ones. Individuals from Harar and Konso worked on terraces inside the Chaka Project to stop soil erosion, addressing difficulties that had hindered planting seedlings in the area. Indigenous plants, including fruits like apples, are now being cultivated.

Prime Minister Abiy underscored the need to expand similar indigenous knowledge across the nation, commending the farmers of Harar and Konso for completing the work on the terraces in a short time. He noted that activities are underway to increase the forest coverage of Addis Ababa to 30 percent to change the image of the city.

Ethiopia has been carrying out extensive seedling planting activities over the past five years, planting 32.5 billion seedlings so far. The country’s goal for this year is to reach 40 billion seedlings, aiming for an overall target of 50 billion. This planting cycle, the nation is working to plant 7.5 billion seedlings. Ethiopia’s forest coverage increased to 23.6 percent by 2023 from 17.2 percent in 2019.

WHO Prequalifies First Self-Test Kit for Hepatitis C Virus

ADDIS ABABA — The World Health Organization (WHO) announced it has prequalified the first self-test for the hepatitis C virus (HCV), marking a significant step towards the elimination of the viral infection. The OraQuick HCV self-tests can play a critical role in expanding access to testing and diagnosis, according to WHO.

According to Ethiopian News Agency, the kit is manufactured by OraSure Technologies and is an extension of the OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test, which was initially prequalified by WHO in 2017 for professional use. Prequalification by the UN’s health agency ensures that medicines and medical devices supplied by international procurement agencies meet acceptable standards of quality, safety, and efficacy.

“The addition of this product to the WHO prequalification list provides a safe and effective way to expand HCV testing and treatment services, ensuring more people receive the diagnoses and treatment they need, and ultimately contributing to the global goal of HCV elimination,” said Dr. Meg Doherty, Director of the Department of Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes.

Hepatitis C attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic illness, which can be life-threatening. It spreads through contact with infected blood, including through sharing needles or syringes, unscreened blood transfusions, and certain sexual practices. Approximately 50 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus infection, with about a million new infections occurring each year, according to WHO. The UN agency estimated that around 242,000 people died from hepatitis C in 2022, mainly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, or primary liver cancer.

WHO recommended self-testing in 2021 to complement existing testing services, based on evidence that it increases both access to and uptake of services, particularly among people who may not otherwise test for the virus. Dr. Doherty highlighted that 3,500 lives are lost each day to viral hepatitis and noted that “of the 50 million people living with hepatitis C, only 36 percent had been diagnosed, and 20 percent have received curative treatment by the end of 2022.”

WHO Director for the Department of Regulation and Prequalification, Dr. Rogério Gaspar, added, “The availability of a WHO prequalified HCV self-test enables low and middle-income countries to have access to safe and affordable self-testing options, which is essential to achieving the goal of 90 percent of all people with HCV to be diagnosed.”

WHO will continue to assess additional HCV self-tests and expand available options to all countries in collaboration with communities and stakeholders.