July 23, 2009 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): World Learning Ethiopia announced the launch of a three-year project entitled “HIV Prevention in Large Scale Construction Sites in Ethiopia,” made possible by a $4.75 million grant from the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS (PEPFAR) through United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project aims to reach more than 33,000 construction workers, 2,900 commercial sex workers and 200,000 surrounding community members from a total of 25 construction sites located throughout Ethiopia.
Ethiopia is undergoing nation-wide economic development efforts that include large-scale construction throughout the country. Many of these construction sites are in rural and remote locations where HIV prevention and care efforts are often lacking. Working in collaboration with key government agencies, World Learning seeks to create workplace interventions and policies that will reduce high-risk behavior and HIV infection for workers and community members.
Local partners, World Learning staff and community members attended the launch event. The day included a keynote address by USAID Deputy Mission Director Nancy Estes and workshops by Dr. Abeba Bekele, chief of the prevention project and Ministry of Water Resources representatives.
Nancy Estes observed, “…this project implemented by World Learning is unique in that it works closely with government agencies to help institutionalize HIV prevention policies and programs in the workplace.” She continued, quoting a famous Ethiopian Amharic proverb hande bertu hulet medhanitu meaning “two is stronger that one.” “I could not agree more,” Estes noted. “It takes partnership-between government and donors, NGOs and communities, to make a lasting change…we believe that without the involvement of the government and the community, HIV prevention will not be sustainable.”
World Learning Ethiopia Country Representative, Adanech Kebede, said, “It’s my firm belief that with the commitment and expertise we expect from (World Learning,) we will be able to achieve our objectives and contribute towards the betterment of our country Ethiopia”.