Eritrea: Foro – Successful development initiatives
The Foro subzone has been the site of many future development initiatives, and one of the most significant successes in the subzone has been in education.
Thirty years ago, apart from some adult literacy campaigns led by the EPLF, there was literally no school per se. But today, there are schools in 14 of the 15 administrative areas of the subzone. In addition to kindergartens, the sub-zone has 34 schools, primary and secondary included, which cater for 4,000 pupils, 33% of whom are girls.
To make education accessible to all citizens, schools have been built in remote areas of the sub-area. This is a major achievement, but student enrollment has not yet reached the desired level. Mr. Osman Arefa, the administrator of the Foro subzone, said: “Although a promising result has been recorded, nomadic life continues to be the main challenge limiting the number of students attending schools compared to availability of schools ”.
Mr. Osman added that some students were unable to attend primary schools due to the lack of such facilities in their neighborhood. As an interim solution, the administration of the subzone is considering building boarding schools in areas where such problems persist. Resettlement of communities living in dispersed villages must be carried out rigorously to make social services easily accessible in the sub-zone.
An adult literacy program was introduced with the opening of new schools in different parts of the sub-area. Currently, there are 42 adult education centers managed by the Ministry of Education.
The provision of health services in the subzone is also commendable. The health facilities in Foro, Robrobia, Erafayle and Lehazien and the newly built health centers in Emule and Mahfide provide efficient services. The dispersed nature of the villages and some very mountainous places pose a challenge for the efficient and easy provision of health care. These places are reached by foot physicians whose typical services include vaccination, diagnosis, and public health awareness campaigns.
Mr. Mehari Kalab, the administrator of health facilities in the subzone, said that people living in the subzone are aware of the benefits of health services and collaborate with health workers. He said maternity services have improved with more mothers now attending antenatal and postnatal services. He pointed out, “Through years of hard work, the sub-area has been able to significantly reduce the incidence of common diseases and childbirth death rates.”
Mr. Mehari added that the role of health professionals in educating people about various health issues is so crucial that the subzone has shown encouraging results in eradicating FGM and other harmful practices that affect women’s health. Health workers regularly travel to remote parts of the subzone for immunizations, resulting in 98% immunization coverage in 2020.
Transportation has been one of the areas where major developments have been observed in the sub-area. The newly constructed Egila-Foro strategic road connected villages scattered in the mountains and paved the way for better access to different types of social services. With the opening of the road, people’s lives have been transformed.
Local communities benefit from regular transport services along the Massawa-Assab and Foro-Adi-Keyih routes. Other commercially strategic routes that serve the population include the Foro-Zula, Foro-Malka, Foro-Aligede and Foro-Robrobia routes. In addition, residents of areas along the Massawa-Foro and Adi-Keyih-Omarkabre routes enjoy regular transport service while other areas are served once a week on market days. The Foro subzone has a large coastal area and many of its inhabitants live by using the resources of the sea. Mr. Osman said that although they have abundant marine resources, they have not yet been able to make the most of them. This is in part because fishermen do not get good prices for their fish at the town market and people’s eating habits do not favor seafood. Mr. Osman advises residents of the subzone , especially those living around coastal areas, to make maximum use of marine resources. He added that their administration needed to do more to help local communities become beneficiaries of locally available resources.
The water around Foro has high salinity due to its proximity to the coast and affects residents of Kumhule, Mahfid, Arebto, Ruba-Hadas, Dnango, Gebgeb-Wasana and parts of the administrative areas of Ayromale and Malka . To meet the challenge, clean water from wells dug in remote areas is distributed to the administration center through water pipes. In villages atop high mountains, water is stored in water reservoirs collected in a chain of water channels. This guarantees clean water to residents for a few months and saves them from having to walk long hours to fetch water.
The Foro sub-area has a total of 8,300 hectares of fertile agricultural land which is cultivated using the rivers that flow towards Zula during the rainy season of the highlands and lowlands. And through soil and water conservation activities to enrich groundwater and the construction of micro-dams and water reservoirs, much has been done to make water available in a sustainable manner. Farmers in the Foro sub-zone grow maize, sorghum fruits and vegetables.
The Foro subzone, home to the Adulis and Erafayle hot springs, is one of ten subzones in the northern Red Sea region. It borders Massawa to the north, the Gelalo subzone to the southeast, the Ghinda’e subzone to the northwest and the southern region to the west. The total area of the sub-zone is 2,770 km2 grouped into 15 administrative zones. The population of the sub-area is 44,000, most of whom, 89%, earn their living by cultivating and raising animals while 11% make a living from fishing and trading. The subzone is home to five ethnic groups: Saho, Tigre, Afar, Tigrinya and Rashayda.