Camel library proves a hit for locked down Ethiopian kids
8 August 2020 at 9:00 am
The project currently reaches over 22,000 children in 33 villages
With Ethiopian schools in coronavirus lockdown, children in some of the county’s most remote villages have turned to an unlikely source to continue learning: a camel library.
The library is a Save the Children initiative that kicked off in 2010, harnessing 21 camels which are traditionally used by Somali communities in Ethiopia to transport goods across hot lowland areas.
Instead, the camels are being used to carry up to 200 storybooks at a time in wooden boxes strapped to their backs.
When more than 26 million children were removed from school due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the camel library outreach program became a saving grace for remote communities.
Mahadiya is a 13-year-old student in a remote part of the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia.
She has made the most of the mobile camel library, which visits her village every week.
“When schools were closed, I was very sad. However, the camel library continued to come to our village and supplied us with storybooks,” Mahadiya said.
“I feel very happy and I am now able to borrow and take home the storybook that I would like to read.”
The project currently provides for over 22,000 children in 33 villages.
Ekin Ogutogullari, Save the Children’s country director in Ethiopia, said the library was vital at a time when the virus posed particular challenges for vulnerable populations living in high density or resource poor communities.
She said they had conducted a survey in Ethiopia which found that children were fearful about the impacts of COVID.
“Children raised concerns around increases in child labour, early marriage, and abuse due to the outbreak and closure of schools,” Ogutogullari said.
“On top of this, Ethiopian children and their families are facing floods, desert locusts, cholera, measles, food insecurity, and rising poverty levels.
“The scale of this crisis is huge, but we are determined to meet the needs of the most vulnerable and ensure no child is worse off at the end of this pandemic.”