The city of Hawassa (also called Awassa) is the capital of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) in Ethiopia. It is located on the shores of Lake Awassa in the Great Rift Valley and has a population of approximately 259,000. The majority of the people live in rural areas, with those in Hawassa surviving off fishing in Lake Awassa or subsistence farming. Crippling poverty, lack of health care and education, and profound gender inequality affect the lives of thousands in this predominantly agricultural region of Ethiopia.
Since 1985, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Hawassa.
Poverty is a predominantly rural issue in Ethiopia. In the region where Hawassa is situated, 91% of the population lives in rural areas.
Vulnerable families are more likely to be affected by natural disasters and, because they are isolated, they have less access to services such as healthcare and schools.
Children growing up in families with many siblings or those headed by single parents, older relatives or other siblings are most likely to be poor. One in 4 people in the region live in poverty.
The Hawassa region has one of the lowest rates of school attendance rates in the country.
Only 34% of children attend primary school. Girls are more likely to drop out of school than boys. The number of children who go onto secondary school is even lower: 17% for boys and 15% for girls.
Children stop attending school because they need to contribute to the family income. Nearly 11% of children are engaged in hazardous labour, such as commercial sexual exploitation or working long hours in the weaving industry. Many more help the family with household chores or subsistence farming.