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We are 'Support for Health and Education Projects in Ethiopia', a small charity based in Shropshire, UK. Our UK charity registration number is 1161261.

Since 2007 a group of us in Shropshire has been raising funds to help people in rural Ethiopia get better access to healthcare, clean water and schooling.

Until the end of 2014 this was under the auspices of 'SHAPE', The Shropshire Health for Africa Project (UK charity No. 1124253) - see www.shapeafrica.org.uk. In February 2015 we became a separate charitable trust with a narrower focus and took over responsibility for the Ethiopia side of SHAPE's work.

In the UK we are an entirely voluntary organisation and apart from expenses such as insurance and the printing of leaflets all money raised goes to Ethiopia. People who travel to Ethiopia pay their own expenses - it is part of what we do in our holidays.

The work in Ethiopia is fully professional - but not done by us. We are too small to register as an organisation in Ethiopia so our support is in liaison with an Ethiopian NGO, SUNARMA (www.sunarma.org) and with the local administration.

Our policy is to help in ways that will continue to benefit whole sections of the community without further support from us. Long-term sustainability comes from being part of local initiatives . We do go back regularly, but it is to identify what we can do next, increase our understanding of 'how things work' - and to be seen to be checking up on what has been done.

Each time we visit we meet with local government officers to identify things where support from us will bring a lasting benefit. Everything we agree to is done to their specification but we arrange to pay suppliers, contractors and workshops directly.

Typically 'ownership' by the beneficiaries of what has been done is encouraged by asking them to make a significant contribution to the work, for example by providing local material, manual labour and traditional skills.

We like to give our supporters detailed accounts of how and where we spend their money. To read more about what we do and the area where we are helping use the Projects tab above.

For more about us, and the background to our involvement with Ethiopia, read on.

Jenny Howard

Jenny Howard. Trustee. Jenny qualified in medicine in 1983. She is a partner in a rural general practice in South Shropshire with a particular interest in women's health. She was a member of the party that visited Ethiopia in 2007 to look at rural healthcare issues and has since made six further visits. She has travelled widely and spent a short time at a hospital for Women and Children in India. Outside of Medicine she has an interest in craftwork, especially textiles.

Wendy-Jane Walton

Wendy-Jane Walton. Trustee. Wendy-Jane qualified in medicine in 1982. She is a partner in a rural general practice on the Shropshire - Wales border. Wendy-Jane was a member of the parties that visited Ethiopia in 2009, when our first support in Jidda began, and in 2012.

Phil Marsh

Phil Marsh. Trustee. Phil is a retired environmental scientist, with a degree and PhD in Earth Sciences. He has visited Jidda seven times since 2007. Since 2009 he has been UK project manager for our involvement in Jidda, liaising with SUNARMA and our agent in Addis Ababa between visits to Ethiopia. He has particular interest in the water and sanitation aspects of our support.

Diana Parsons

Diana Parsons. Treasurer. Following a degree in Economics and a background in banking, Diana 'retired' from work when her first child was born. She has lived in Church Stretton since 1987 where she has been involved in various community groups.

Introduction - how we became involved

In November 2007 two of us went trekking in Ethiopia with a community-based tourism organisation and were invited to spend time with SUNARMA Ethiopia (www.sunarma.org) and ActionEthiopia(www.actionethiopia.org) as they reviewed their projects in three of the federal regions of Ethiopia. They took us to the communities that they are working with, explained their work and helped us to understand some of the challenges people were facing. As we travelled around we attended meetings with healthcare workers, government officers (local, regional and federal) and non-governmental organisations.

The Ethiopian government is implementing well-documented development programmes for health, education, water and sanitation which have the support and co-operation of international aid organisations and foreign governments (including the UK). In 2007 the policy was to aim for coverage, to give communities the benefit of access to a basic set of services, and subsequently to improve the quality of services.

We saw for ourselves that this was progressing 'on the ground' but was behind schedule, mainly due to shortage of funds. Local administrations were using what resources they had in a pragmatic way to meet local targets designed to help the country achieve its Millennium Development Goals.

Even in our brief travels with SUNARMA we saw local strategies matched to local circumstances. In pastoralist communities local officials explained that few girls finished school so recruitment of local health extension workers was difficult; the few they did have were relatively well equipped but operating from administrative centres. In areas of settled agriculture, like Jidda, recruitment and training of staff was well in hand and workers were dispersed in the community, but spending on salaries meant that resources for buildings and equipment were thinly spread.

The situation of 'staff but no equipment' seemed to be one where people making regular visits with funds raised in the UK could make a big difference. In 2009, having raised money in Shropshire to support improvements to health, three of us returned to Jidda with SUNARMA and a local advisor.

Knowing that education, especially for girls, brought improvements in health we were fortunate that SUNARMA introduced us to schools where they were working. We saw that efforts to meet targets for enrolment at primary schools had put teachers in many small communities but in rudimentary buildings, built by the communities, with little more than a blackboard. This was clearly a situation where money from outside could improve the quality of service; we subsequently learned that it also improved the attendance figures.

How we go about helping

We are not registered as an organisation in Ethiopia - we are too small to be able to meet the requirements and would not want the costs of a permanent presence - so we provide targeted financial support to our partners there. Our main partner is SUNARMA Ethiopia who have been working with families in Jidda since 2004. Our support for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) is through them. SUNARMA's main partner is the local administration. Following introductions by SUNARMA our support for Health and Education sectors is in liaison with local government officers.

The things that we can help with that are cost-effective and at the centre of our aims as a charity are all parts of the government development programmes that are behind schedule due to shortage of funds or are planned for the future but can be brought forward if we can pay for them. Such gaps in services - and the filling of them by charities - were an anticipated aspect of the development programmes.

To help fill these gaps ("gap filling" is an expression heard in the Oromifa side of our meetings with local officials) we liaise with the local administration, matching priorities for which they have no budget with our aims and our understanding of the local needs. Our policy is to provide help in ways where there will be long-term benefit without further involvement from us or, less often, to meet a short-term needs that are preventing things moving forwards.

Our funds do not go through the government system - we pay the contractors or suppliers directly but local officials provide the specifications and approve the suppliers and the work done.

Each time we visit Jidda we check up on how things are going with what we have supported but our aim is that any long term needs can be met locally. Typically this is done by the beneficiaries having 'ownership' of what has been done and making a significant contribution to the work,for example by providing local material, manual labour and traditional skills.

SUNARMA field staff say that village communities are good to work with in this way and such community involvement is built into many changes that the government is introducing - for example communities that have never had a school before are helped in setting up something like a parent teacher assocation to provide material support to the school that their children can now attend.


SHEPEthiopia is a working name for the "Support for Health and Education Projects in Ethiopia", UK charity No. 1161261

Page updated 17/06/2019