We are proud to partner with Global Affairs Canada for a large humanitarian project to increase the well-being and dignity of those with special needs, including older persons and individuals with disabilities in Gambella.


We are providing a tailored and integrated response to address their health, nutrition and protection and inclusion needs. This project will benefit a total of 51,000 refugees and individuals from the surrounding host communities.


HelpAge has been operational in Ethiopia for over 20 years implementing age and gender sensitive humanitarian programs responding to conflict and climate change induced humanitarian crises as well as promoting the rights of older people and empowering them to advocate for their rights at local and national level.  

This project will benefit 51,000 refugees and individuals.


Ethiopia is one of the largest refugee hosting countries in Africa, sheltering 779,261 registered refugees and asylum seekers.  Refugees from South Sudan total 402,028 and form the largest population of whom 365,621 are sheltered across seven refugee camps in the Gambella Regional State.  Within Gambella, 2% of the population is over the age of 60, and 83% are known to have a specific need, including 5% with a disability and 34% are noted as women at risk. 

In January 2020, HelpAge conducted a Rapid Needs Assessment in Gambella (RNA), which highlighted key concerns that disproportionately affected people over the of the age of 50, including persons with disabilities (PwDs) and persons with specific needs (PSNs) who faced protection risks and remain in need of food, healthcare, clean water and sanitation. 

A Participatory Assessment undertaken by UNHCR with refugees identified violence, abuse and neglect related protection risks, including the under-reporting of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), domestic violence, unclear referral pathways to services such as legal representation and health services for victims of GBV, lack of awareness about SGBV among new arrivals of all ages, sexual harassment, assault, and physical violence. 

People with Specific Needs (PSNs), including older people and People with Disabilities (PwDs) are often not reached by mainstream humanitarian responses and assumptions are often made about their needs. They face heightened protection risks of violence and exploitation, as well as restricted access to humanitarian assistance and protection due to neglect, discrimination, and/or isolation by family or community members. 

Data collected and analyzed from various assessments show that PSNs are often unable to meet their specific needs; lack of food leads to malnutrition and health complications and unnecessary death as a result of this; health needs go unmet, especially for PSNs living with chronic illness, who are unable to access health services and appropriate medicines; a lack of assistive devices to support with mobility and additional challenges related to COVID-19 pandemic – including secondary affects of the virus.  

Increase the wellbeing and dignity of older persons by addressing health, nutrition, protection and inclusion needs.

Our Project (2021-2022):

The project aims to increase the wellbeing and dignity of PSNs, including older people and PwDs in Gambella by providing a tailored and integrated response to address their health, nutrition and protection and inclusion needs. This project will benefit a total of 51,739 (27,378 female and 24,361 male) refugees and individuals from the surrounding host communities.  

The three key outcomes of the project include: 


3,700 older women and men will have been assessed for their nutritional needs and have increased access to age sensitive food and services for the management of acute malnutrition 

Specific health needs of 24,975 older people, PwDs and other PSNs are addressed through awareness and tailored health care services including SRHR, rehabilitation and COVID-19 prevention measures 

23,064 older people, PwDs and other PSNs can address their protection concerns  

Supporting older persons in Ethiopia since 1992

Older person at Teltele Borena zone
Nayala Thout chol_ Photographer Anteneh_cropped
Kondial Resturant Group 60 year old Nyabial Tut
Primary eye care facility for older people
Cash transfer borena_crop
Ziwa dugda

Program photos provided by HelpAge International and HelpAge Ethiopia.