Dr. Filimona Bisrat, Secretariat Director and Senior Regional Technical Advisor 

Secretariat Host Organization/ Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Associations (CCRDA)

Programmatic Focus

CGPP Ethiopia reaches underserved rural, pastoralist and semi-pastoralist areas to facilitate opportunities to vaccinate and conduct case search and reporting to maintain acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance quality. The CGPP focuses on preventing polio through assistance to large-scale vaccination campaigns (SIAs), strengthening immunization systems and community-based surveillance.  In 2019, CGPP Ethiopia began integrating community-based surveillance for three priority zoonotic diseases – Rabies, Anthrax, and Brucellosis – to strengthen Global Health Security.

Implementation Focal Sites

In 2020, CGPP Ethiopia operates in 85 border districts, or woredas, across the 5 regions of Gambella (13 woredas), SNNP (13 woredas), Oromia (11 woredas), Somali (28 woredas) and Benshangul-Gumuz (20 woredas). The project reaches 6.1 million people, or 10 percent of the country’s population.

Implementing Partners

Five international PVOs – Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, World Vision, International Rescue Committee and Amref Health Africa – and four local NGOs – Pastoralist Concern, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus and Organization for Welfare and Development in Action.


 In November 2001, CGPP Ethiopia began activities to reach hard-to-reach communities with vaccination services and surveillance. Ethiopia is a country at high risk for importation from neighboring conflict-affected Somalia and South Sudan. The last case of wild polio virus was recorded in January 2014.  Due to low routine immunization coverage and weak surveillance, parts of the country in 2020 are seeing climbing cases of circulating Type 2 vaccine-derived cases (cVDPV2).

Rugged terrain, scattered population settlements, weak health service systems, limited participation of key community members in planning of vaccination activities, and porous borders with polio-endemic areas pose the greatest challenges to control of polio transmission in Ethiopia.  These barriers result in low community awareness about polio vaccination and AFP surveillance; resistance to the polio vaccine is very low.

Ongoing ethnic and tribal conflict in the areas of Somali, Benshangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Oromia regions resulted in the displacement of more than 1 million persons in 2018, impeded project staff movement and impacted project implementation. Another major concern has been the poor access to and the quality of health care, particularly for pastoralist populations and refugees crossing into the country to escape conflict. There are significant disparities found across project regions, but all share several features: difficult geographies, weak health infrastructures (with low technical and managerial capacities), bureaucratic systems with little accountability, low routine immunization coverage, poor surveillance systems, unrestricted population movement, and vulnerable populations scattered along the hard-to-reach borders.

The CGPP in Ethiopia has been a pioneer in the use of community volunteers for immunization promotion and community-based surveillance activities. In Ethiopia, more than 12,000 CGPP Community Volunteers (CVs) provide crucial support to increase the coverage of polio and other routine immunizations as well as surveillance of polio, measles and tetanus in hard-to-reach, high-risk, pastoralist and semi-pastoralist regions, which are sparsely populated. CVs, Health Development Army Leaders (HDALs) and Health Extension Workers (HEWs) actively search and report on cases of Acute Flaccid Paralysis, measles and neonatal tetanus and tracked newborns from early pregnancy. They regularly conduct house-to-house health education sessions and social mobilization activities during routine and supplementary immunization campaigns.

Increasing the involvement of traditional and religious leaders is among several strategies employed by CGPP Ethiopia to improve community acceptance of the polio vaccine rather than seeking traditional healers for the treatment of vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2019, the CGPP reached 5.4 million persons with routine and supplementary immunization campaigns, community-based disease surveillance and house-to-house health education activities to track and register pregnant mothers, newborns, and defaulter children.


CGPP 2019_Ethiopia


Dr. Filimona Bisrat, Director

Legesse Kidanne, Deputy Director

Muluken Asres, GHS Advisor

Asrat Asress, Program Officer

Tenager Tadesse, M & E Officer

Bethelehem Asegedew, Communication Officer 

Solomon H/Selassie, Senior Finance Officer

Bahiru Getachew, Finance Officer

Sophia Yoseph, Administrative & Liaison Officer


Newsletter July – September 2020

Newsletter April to June 2020

Newsletter January to March 2020

Newsletter October – December 2019

Newsletter July – Sept 2019

Newsletter April – June 2019

Newsletter January – March 2019

Newsletter April – June 2018

Newsletter October 2017 – March 2018

View past newsletters here


Asegedew, B.; Tessema, F.; Perry, H.B.; Bisrat, F. (2019) The CORE Group Polio Project’s community volunteers and polio eradication in Ethiopia: self-reports of their activities, knowledge, and contributions. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 101(Suppl 4), 2019, pp. 45–51.

Tessema, F.; Bisrat, F.; Kidane, L.; Assres, M.; Tadesse, T.; Asegedew, B. (2019). Improvements in Polio Vaccination Status and Knowledge about Polio Vaccination in the CORE Group Polio Project Implementation Areas in Pastoralist and Semi-Pastoralist Regions in Ethiopia, Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 101(Suppl 4), 2019, pp. 52–58.

Stamidis, K.V.; Bologna, L.; Bisrat, F.; Tadesse T.; Tessema F.; Kang, E. (2019). Trust, communication, and community networks: How the CORE Group Polio Project community volunteers led the fight against Polio in Ethiopia’s most at-risk areas trust. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg., 101(Suppl 4), 2019, pp. 59–67.

Bisrat, F. Endeavors to improve immunization uptake in Ethiopia [Editorial]. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 33(Special issue).

Tadesse, T., Gelaw, B., Haile, Y., Bisrat, F., Kidanne, L., Asres, M., Asress, A., Asegdew, B. & Tessema F. (2019) Immunization service availability and readiness in primary health care in pastoral and semi-pastoral CGPP Ethiopia implementation districtsThe Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 33(Special issue).

Asres, M., Tessema, F. (2019) Contribution of plastic bags to the retention of child immunization cards in Gambella Region and Assosa Zone, Benishangul-Gumuz Region, Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 33(Special issue).

Bisrat, F., Abdissa, S., Asres, M., Tadesse, T., Kidanne, L., Asegdew, B., Zeleke, S., Asress, A., Tessema, F. (2019) Healthcare workers readiness immunization services at primary health care units in pastoral and semi-pastoral regions in Ethiopia: CORE Group Polio Project implementation areas. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 33(Special issue).

Kidanne, L., Solomon, M., Bisrat, F., Asres, M., Tadesse, T.,  Asress, A.,  Asegdew, B., Zeleke, S., Tessema, F. (2019) Child vaccination timing intervals and missed opportunities in pastoral and semi-pastoral areas in Ethiopia . The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 33(Special issue).

Asres, M., Wachiso, A., Bisrat, F., Tadesse, T., Kidanne, L., Asegdew, B., Asress, A., Tessema, F. (2019) Immunization service providers’ knowledge, attitude and practice in primary health care units in pastoral and semi-pastoral areas of Ethiopia: CORE Group Polio Project. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 33(Special issue).


Technical Brief: Continuity of CGP-GHS Activities in Ethiopia During COVID-19 Pandemic

Towards Eradicating Polio Video

Community-based Surveillance Training Manual for Targeted Diseases and Signals

Social Mobilization: Lessons from the CORE Group Polio Project in Angola, Ethiopia, and India

Enhancing AFP Surveillances in Ethiopia Somali Region: Some Good Practices in the Implementation of BMGF Supported Project

AFP Case Detection and Status of Surveillance in Pastoralist and Semi-pastoralist Communities of CORE Group Polio Project Implementation Districts (woredas) in Ethiopia

Newborn Tracking for Polio birth dose vaccination in Pastoralist and Semi-pastoralist CORE Group Polio Project Implementation Districts (Woredas) in Ethiopia

CGPP Ethiopia 5 years summary report 2013 – 2017

CGPP Ethiopia Baseline Survey Report


Health Care Service Providers Practice on Reporting Adverse Events Following Immunizations and Factors and Challenges Affecting
it in Pastoral Zone of Ethiopia
, APHA 2019

Community Volunteers and Their Knowledge and Practice Related to Immunization, Vaccine Preventable Diseases and Disease Surveillance in Hard to Reach Pastoralist Community of Ethiopia, APHA 2019

Polio Birth Dose Vaccination in Pastoralist and Semi-pastoralist Communities: Evidences from CORE Group Polio Project Implementation Districts (Woredas) in Ethiopia, APHA 2019

Immunization Service Availability and Readiness in Primary Health Care Units in Pastoral and Semi-pastoral CGPP Ethiopia Implementation Districts, APHA 2019

Use of Dedicated Volunteer Community Mobilizers for Polio Eradication Program in Pastoralist, Hard to Reach and Bordering Part of Ethiopia,
APHA 2019

Assess Community Based Surveillance: A successful strategy to hunt hidden AFP cases in hard to reach and underserved communities in Ethiopia, APHA 2018

Role of religious leaders and knowledge of caretakers on child immunization in hard to reach and pastoralist communities in Ethiopia, APHA 2018

Immunization service availability and readiness in the hard to reach zones of Ethiopia: Quantitative Study, APHA 2018

Impact of Plastic Bag for Vaccination Card Retention, Two Semi Pastoralist Regions, Ethiopia, APHA 2018

Knowledge and Practice of Frontline Health Workers on Immunization Services Provision in Hard to Reach Districts of CORE Group Polio Project Operation Areas in Ethiopia, APHA 2018

Evaluate child vaccination timing and interval between doses in hard to reach, pastoral and semi-pastoralist areas in Ethiopia: Evidence from CORE Group Polio Project implementation areas, APHA 2017

Integrating Community Volunteers and Health Extension Workers to Increase Scalability and Sustainability, 13th World Congress on Public Health World Health Organization 2012

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