Integral Alliance launched a Disaster Response for the Tigray crisis in Ethiopia and Sudan in December 2020. Along with 14 other Integral Members, Integra in Slovakia opted into that response. Ivana Corbova, Integra’s International Projects Manager, explains what they have achieved through working in partnership with other Slovak NGOs …
Please tell us a bit about the campaign ‘Spolu Pre Etiopiu’ (Together for Ethiopia)
We wanted to work with other NGOs in Slovakia to run a comprehensive joint campaign for Ethiopia. We approached other humanitarian and development organisations with the idea of raising funds and awareness about the conflict in Ethiopia. Five organisations in Slovakia were willing to join the five-week campaign which launched in March 2021.
We only had three months to prepare, and even though it was challenging we found that it was possible! We used stories and photos that had been shared by other Integral Members to create the campaign.
What was the inspiration to join with others on this campaign?
We were actually very inspired by the Integral Alliance because of how they work on the principle of partnership. In the early stages of the campaign, we often thought about how to use what we have learnt about partnership from being a member of Integral.
Also, Integra did something similar in 2017 to raise funds for Kenya. However, in 2020 the conflict between regional and national actors in Ethiopia was hardly ever mentioned in the Slovak media, so the starting position was much more difficult.
What were some of your campaign activities?
Together we agreed which projects to support and how to distribute funds. This was not an easy task! We created a logo for the campaign and a joint website called Together for Ethiopia. We issued a press release, held an online press conference and had articles published in national news at the beginning of the campaign – this really helped to push the campaign forward.
We also worked with several Ethiopians from Tigray living in Slovakia. They were willing to be interviewed by the media and became ambassadors for the campaign. They had powerful stories about how they remembered Tigray in contrast to how it is now. We gained media attention from both Christian and non-Christian, national and local media, and were invited to many discussions. We had a total of 41 different outputs from media – in magazines, newspapers, various blogs, as well as exposure on the webpages of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Slovak Aid.
We organised an online discussion with the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic in Ethiopia. This involved well-known singers and influencers who publicly expressed solidarity with Ethiopia.
We also launched the Peace for Ethiopia advocacy campaign, which was aimed at the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other constitutional actors. The campaign involved children who created an angel with wings as a symbol of peace. This angel is now exhibited at the ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Minister received campaign leaders and children, and eventually supported the campaign and called for peace – it was a very beautiful gesture.
What did you achieve?
Together we raised almost EUR 100,000 which was distributed among several projects. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs donated EUR 20,000 – this was distributed to support four projects. We have raised awareness about the conflict in Ethiopia and have improved relationships and cooperation with the media and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Slovakia. The money raised has been sent to three different organisations, including Tearfund (UK), and has been used for food distribution, NFIs and psychological support.
Do you have any future plans?
We plan to continue similar initiatives and create a platform to do so more effectively. We can certainly apply our learnings from this experience – these include how best to distribute the money, select projects to support, create the media strategy and collect new contacts.
How did being a Member of Integral make a difference for you in this context?
Without the Integral Alliance we would not have had a partner in Ethiopia to support. Through the regular Integral disaster calls for the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, we received updates from the fourteen Integral Members who were part of that response.
It was so good to work with Tearfund (UK) who shared photos, stories, project information and interviews with us. Also, through the funds raised we able to support Tearfund projects in Ethiopia. It is wonderful that being a Member of Integral Alliance enabled us to run this campaign and this in turn has given Integra a stronger position with the media, government and the general public in Slovakia.