Why Is It Hard to Implement Covid-19 Precautions In Ethiopia

Mayor of Addis Ababa distributing hand sanitizer to public pharmacies.

Amina lives in Cherkos, one of the densely populated areas in the center of Addis Ababa. She sells fast food for living inside her small cafe. Children in the neighborhood play on the street and sometimes run into the cafe. She says the government’s decision to close schools to tackle coronavirus spread, “caused hardship” since she has to take care of the children and serve food for customers at the same time.

2020 03 25 15.16.48 1
Amina and Tewodros from left to right, residents in Cherkos neighborhood

In villages like Cherkos, it could be hard to implement health precautions provided by the Ministry of Health.  The small space of Amina’s cafe accommodates more than ten people, including children swarming in multiple times.  Amina said, “I believe prayer is the solution.” she added that she didn’t make any changes when it comes to hygiene. “It is good to keep personal hygiene and am doing what I used to, ” she said.


Since the coronavirus case was confirmed in Ethiopia, the government has given a series of recommendations to combat the spread of the virus. Social distancing, frequent hand wash, and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers are some of the suggestions given by international and local health institutions.


Tewodros Wolde-Giorgis, a woodworker near Amina’s cafe, lives with eight family members in a small house. He says, “how could we maintain social distance where everybody lives as a group in small rooms?”


“The government’s precautions don’t go along with our life,” Tewodros said. He added that they couldn’t wash their hands as recommended since they get water every two weeks. Additionally, he doesn’t afford an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  He said, “I drink ‘alcohol’ instead.”


Ethiopia confirmed 12 Covid-19 cases so far. Since the first case was verified three weeks ago, the government took measures such as closing schools, banning public gatherings, and border shutdown.


Amina, Tewodros, and others in the neighborhood were scared when they heard the news  ‘coronavirus found in Ethiopia.’ And some of them are trying hard to follow the directions provided by the Ministry of Health. But others like Amina and Tewodros believe they got no option other than ” a prayer.”