Evaluation of the Developmental Bible: A program to integrate HIV and other reproductive health information in the teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church

  • Samson Bekele
  • Tekle‐Ab Mekbib Senior Consultant in Reproductive Health & Safe Motherhood
  • Aschalew Kassie
  • Getachew Kassa


For many remote rural Ethiopian communities, religious structures are often the only sustained contactwith a formal institution, and so, they provide opportunity for conveying health and developmentalmessages directly to a large audience. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church (EOTC) is the country’slargest religious institution. The Developmental Bible (DB) project took advantage of its significant reachto convey key health and development messages to its congregants.The DB project sets out to incorporate health and other development messages in the teachings of theChurch to be passed as key messages during Church sermons by trained priests. The evaluation of theDB project also sets out to establish the advantages of using indigenous structures of the Church and todemonstrate that the Church could be a partner for social change and development.The DB project was a two‐year pilot project conducted during 2008–2010. The project was launchedfollowing the formulation of DB manual, training of active priests in clergy training centers and theologycolleges. A quasi‐experimental research design with baseline and endline surveys was used to measurechanges between baseline and endline in HIV knowledge, attitude and stigma, as well as attitudes aboutFGM/C. Results were measured against baseline values.The results show positive changes, with significant increases in knowledge of modes of HIV transmissionamong priests, youth and women, and in knowledge of HIV prevention methods for priests and youthgroups. An increase in the proportions of respondents who believe FGM/C should be discontinued wasalso documented. Findings for other attitudinal indicators showed mixed results.