Ethiopia PSEA Network 2021-2022: Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) Strategy and Workplan

Manual and Guideline
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Since its establishment, the inter-agency Ethiopia PSEA Network has made significant progress in tackling sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) within the humanitarian community and development sector in Ethiopia. These achievements are seen through the establishment of both national and regional level networks, endorsement of Inter-Agency Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Community-Based Complaint Mechanisms (CBCMs), development of information campaigns with linked information, education and communication (IEC) materials and GBV pocket guides in local languages, design of (in-person as well as online) country-contextualised training packages for network focal points, clusters and (implementing) partners, as well as the facilitation of ToT trainings for over 180 focal points in Addis Ababa, Somali, Oromia, SNNP and Tigray regions. These achievements are further complemented by ongoing network initiatives and inter-agency projects throughout the country.

Critical to the success of this approach was the UN Country Team (UNCT) and Humanitarian Country Team’s (HCT) vital decision, in 2016, to have a dedicated coordination structure in place in Ethiopia, focusing specifically on sexual exploitation and abuse preparedness and response through the establishment of the inter-agency Ethiopia PSEA Network. This decision by the senior management in-country recognised the urgent need to develop joint accountability mechanisms to advance the support available for at-risk communities; thus, also recognising the common root of these abuses: power differentials and gender inequality. As a part of this process, a clear vision, strategy, and work plan were developed by the PSEA Task Force in 2018, which were later updated by the Ethiopia PSEA Network focal points and endorsed by UNCT and EHCT in 2020 and 2021.

Despite this important progress, however, much more need to be done on PSEA in Ethiopia, especially as the country continues to be affected by various emergencies. These, amongst others, include conflict and related IDPs and refugees, COVID-19 pandemic, drought, desert locust infestation, and floods. Consequently, at-risk groups, especially women and children, are impacted by multiple shocks, creating an emerging protection crisis in-country. Within this context, the Ethiopia PSEA Network remains committed to its vision of:

Supporting its members in fully integrating PSEA in national interventions, as well as developing an inter-agency accountability culture from the top-down that fully protect and supports survivors.
- Dr. Catherine Sozi, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Ethiopia, July 2021


This PSEA strategy and workplan has been developed jointly by members of the Ethiopia PSEA Network to prevent, mitigate and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse in-country. It includes the identification of SEA risks through assessments and coordinated referrals (i.e., within the mapped CP/GBV Area of Responsibility (AoR) systems). It also includes close collaboration with the Inter-Agency Accountability Working Group (IAAWG) on developing and strengthening accessible, confidential, and efficient systems that allow incidents to be reported in a safe manner. As such, this strategy and work plan abide by the principles enshrined in the Secretary-General’s Bulletin on “Special measures for protection against sexual exploitation and abuse” (ST/SGB/2003/13), and reflects the strong commitments made by UNCT and HCT to actively engage on PSEA.

Indeed, through the successful implementation of this strategy and workplan, the UNCT and HCT in Ethiopia aims to ensure that affected persons and communities live in a trusted, respectful, and inclusive environment free from SEA perpetrated by humanitarian actors, service providers, and (implementing) partners. The affected communities, irrespective of gender, age, background, (dis)ability and sexual orientation of the affected, will then feel safe, understood, and empowered to report SEA incidents, and humanitarian actors will take gender-specific, intersectional, robust, timely, and visible actions. Senior management, in particular, will ensure institutional prioritisation to safeguard that systems and services are in place to prevent and respond to SEA.

This strategy and workplan is steered by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Ethiopia with close support from CLA, UNCT, HCT, UN Women and UNFPA as national-level co-chairs, as well as the Inter-Agency PSEA Coordinator. Moreover, it has the buy-in and collaboration of all network members (which include 180 trained focal points from UN agencies, INGOs, NNGOs, IGOs, CSOs, and key actors) engaged in the Ethiopia humanitarian and development preparedness and response (i.e., both at national and regional levels).

Strategic Objective

Building on the network achievements of the last years, and in line with the survivor-centred, gender-specific, and intersectional approach taken on PSEA by the UNCT and HCT, the Ethiopia PSEA Network developed and agreed on four strategic goals for the 2021-2022 strategy and workplan, as outlined below:

  • Leadership and Coordination

  • Capacity Building

  • Awareness Raising

  • Survivor-Centred Response