Success in tackling poverty depends to a crucial extent on the availability of social services for the rural population.
The principal benefit of improved rural transport infrastructure, access to education, health care and agricultural extension services improve the livelihood of the population. Income-generating opportunities are opened up as a result of better access to education, markets and the like. Today we will look at the access and improvement of basic social services in the sub-zone of May-Mne.
The sub-zone borders sub-zones of Adi-Quala in the east, Molqi in the west, Areza in the north and Ethiopia in the south. The peoples’ livelihood depends on agriculture and pastoralism and related fields, while small percent is engaged in other activities. The subzone’s population is around 62 thousand who live in 76 villages organized into 17 local administrations.
The total arable land of May-Mne sub-zone is around 13 thousand hectares. The sub-zone is endowed with streams, some which flow all year round. There is a great potential for the development of fruit and vegetable fields along the main rivers and streams.
In any strategy for promoting the economic development of rural areas, the agricultural sector is particularly important. The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) regularly gives extension services to raise the awareness of the farmers and to utilize the abundant water resource in the region. Last year 160 quintals of selected seed was distributed to farmers to increase the productivity developed by the National Agricultural Research Institute.
Lt. Col. Abraham Haile, administrator of the sub-zone, said that in the past the area was one of the least developed parts of the country with no or little access to basic social services. Access to education was considered a luxury to the inhabitants a few years ago. Throughout the subzone there is now access to schools ranging from pre-school to the junior high school level.
There is extensive evidence that education is important in reducing poverty. Due to the sparse nature of settlement of the villages, however, getting to school – especially junior and secondary school– involves travelling long distances. Transport facilities and their cost are crucial in determining school attendance. For this reason, attendance after the junior high school level has not yet reached the desired level. After completing junior secondary schools, students are supposed to go to the secondary school located in the town of May-Mne. Unfortunately, some students who cannot afford to rent houses or travel for four hours a day often drop out of school.
To solve the problem, the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) branch in the sub-zone is planning to open an additional secondary school. Mr. Kbrom Ghebremedhn, director of the MoE in the sub-zone said that the current achievement in this sector is commendable. Access to education has improved significantly within a short period of time as part of the policy to provide education for all and ensure that no one is left behind.
All in all there are 13 elementary, three junior high schools and one secondary school in the sub-zone. The service which is being provided has improved which is reflected in the number of students who pass the national eighth grade examinations and the high school matriculation exams. Females’ participation is also increasing, and this year they comprise around 44.7% of the total number of students enrolled.
The MoE’s branch in May-Mne has been engaged in providing literacy and post-literacy programs to adults, as well as schooling opportunities to out-of-school youth. It has also been endeavoring to create literate environments and prevent relapses through the establishment of rural libraries for newly literate citizens. Mr. Kbrom said that a general study conducted on students who are out of school found that around four thousand students were not attending schools due to different reasons. Last year around 800 students were returned to school with the cooperation of the sub-zonal administration. In the last year around 50 literacy stations were formed and around 1800 students were taught basic education. The MoE’s branch of the sub-zone is planning to open more junior high schools in the future and separate the combined junior and secondary school of May-Mne. Some of the junior schools will also be upgraded.
The main focus of rural development goals is to make economic development more inclusive and to bring all people to a readily accessible set of basic standards of education and health. There is abundant evidence that transport has a significant role in poverty reduction and improving the general welfare of the people. The sub-zone of May-Mne is connected to the main route that connects Adi-Quala to the sub-zonal administration of May-Mne. This road was renovated in 2017 and has eased the transportation problems that the people had endured. Harat Transportation Share Company is providing service at a fair price to the local inhabitants.
For a productive and healthy community, the availability of health institutions is indispensable. There are two health institutions in the sub-zone. Though they are not sufficient to serve all of the population of the sub-zone, the quality of service they provide is commendable.
The Ministry of Health’s (MoH) branch is working to increase the number of health institutions as opposed to expanding the catchment areas. Two clinics are planned to be added to the existing ones in the future.
There are three hard outreaches identified by the MoH’s branch of the sub-zone. These are covered by foot medics who are trained by the MoH. As part of the strategy to address the problem of long distance, waiting rooms for pregnant mothers have been opened. Mothers are encouraged to come to the health institutions weeks or months before their delivery period and are provided with service.
The MoH has been working to reduce the practice of harmful traditional medicine, and to this end a health committee was formed selected from different sections of the community including public and religious institutions.
The sub-zone has one big deficit in potable water supply that has not yet been solved. Out of the 76 villages of the sub-zone, only four villages have access to potable water supply and the rest use wells and streams as their main source of water. Therefore, there is a grave risk to water borne diseases in this respect. Many villages in the sub-zone are located at hill tops. Lt. Col. Abraham suggested that this could be solved only by relocating the villages to the lowland areas because it is difficult to find water in their locality or transport water to their current location.
Regarding power supply, he indicated that one big generator was installed last year to give light to the town of May-Mne and surrounding villages. However, grid lines have not been connected properly and there are no transformers for efficient power distribution in the town. When this is finished, he hopes that the power shortage will be solved.