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Exploring the patterning and drivers of FGM/C and child marriage in pastoralist Ethiopia: Baseline report from Afar and Somali regions

Research reports

Written by Nicola Jones, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall

Hero image description: An adolescent girl who helps her mother with fetching water, milking goats, caring for siblings, churning butter, selling firewood and making coffee, Afar region, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE 2022 Image credit:© Nathalie Bertrams / GAGE 2022

This report draws on findings from a mixed-methods baseline assessment that explored the patterning and drivers of child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Afar and Somali regions, to identify possible entry points to fast-track change for girls, their families and communities.

Ethiopia has made rapid progress in tackling child marriage and FGM/C over the past 20 years. Despite this, it is still one of the top five countries globally in terms of absolute numbers of girls who married as children. In addition, it is home to an estimated 25 million girls and women who have experienced FGM/C, the largest absolute number of any country in eastern and southern Africa.

In line with Ethiopia’s National Costed Roadmap to End Child Marriage and FGM/C (2020–2024), as well as the country’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals targets, a new research project was launched by the government of Ireland. The project aims to provide evidence on the current levels and drivers of FGM/C and child marriage in pastoral communities as well as, over time, to evaluate a multicomponent programme implemented by Save the Children and aimed at eliminating FGM/C and child marriage.

The baseline is part of a longitudinal research evaluation that includes three rounds of data collection in 2022, 2024 and 2025.

This report, which is aimed at informing a broad audience – including Ethiopian government stakeholders, national and international researchers and non-governmental organisations, and donors – summarises findings from mixed-methods research carried out in early 2022.

It also sets out the implications of those findings for policy and programming, including the implementation of the National Costed Roadmap.

Authors: Kefyalew Endale, Nicola Jones, Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Tassew Woldehanna, Workneh Yadete, Abdilahi Abdisalam, Abreham Alemu, Yitagesu Gebeyehu, Kiya Gezahegne, Robha Murha, Eric Neumeister, Abel Tesfaye, Kassahun Tilahun and Fitsum Workneh