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Project Harar

Overview of organisation

Project Harar works in most disadvantaged and remote areas of Ethiopia, to provide access to treatment for infants and children with cleft lip and palate, as well as more complex facial disfigurements. These conditions impact child development and are the source of stigma and exclusion in their communities. Geographical constraints and the cost of reaching the capital would make treatment impossible for families in rural Ethiopia without Project Harar’s services.


Aims of organisation

Cleft Lip and Palate – Comprehensive Care

We aim address barriers to cleft care that prevent babies, children and young people accessing treatment from rural and remote areas.

Through our outreach programmes we provide access to cleft surgery so that children do not face further developmental problems associated with cleft. Problems include difficulty surrounding breast feeding and eating – resulting in an inadequate nutritional intake, problems with developing speech and language and also facing stigma and isolation in their community – the latter often will lead to children missing out on education.

Our programmes include awareness raising, mobilisation of patients, training of multidisciplinary health workers, mothers support groups, speech therapy and nutritional support.

Our target for 2021 is to help 750 young patients across Ethiopia access treatment for cleft lip and palate, to continue to provide training to multidisciplinary health workers and to increase awareness surrounding cleft and the availability of treatment.


Examples of progress made or particular achievements

Our Cleft programme was established in 2002, since, almost 9,000 infants or children have accessed Project Harar’s services to receive life changing surgery for cleft lip and palate.

Despite a challenging environment in Ethiopia we continue to adapt our methods to deliver Comprehensive Cleft Care Programmes.

We have also developed mass awareness raising campaigns – which involve working within rural communities, local health authorities, local and national media outlets and with community leaders, to actively break down stigma and health misinformation around cleft.


Access to Surgery

Following a pilot programme in October 2020 we have adapted our cleft programmes in the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic to incorporate PPE, Covid testing and longer length of stay to account for patient assessment prior to surgery.


Speech Therapy

Speech therapy services have also been adapted to account for challenges faced due to Covid, adaptataions include remote speech therapy practices with the training of multidisciplinary health workers and orientation of caregivers in speech therapy activities.



Partly as a result of increased food insecurity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have adapted the way we offer nutritional support to patients presenting as underweight or with low haemoglobin. It continues to be standard practice for Project Harar to refer patients presenting with these issues to their local health authority for nutritional support, but as we are experiencing a rise in patients needing nutritional support services we are now offering in addition, a targeted nutrition package to families to address low haemoglobin and to encourage healthy weight gain.


Opportunities to Get Involved

Project Harar are also active members of Circle of Cleft Professionals – and are always looking for cleft experts to talk to about our work. If you would like to arrange a discussion about getting involved with our cleft programmes please email:


Contact Details