Ethiopia | ActionAid UK


ActionAid has been working in Ethiopia since 1989, helping rural communities cope with drought, and supporting women and girls to have equal rights and opportunities.

Throughout 2017 we are worked with communities in Ethiopia to respond to the East Africa crisis - providing thousands of families who were desperately hungry with urgently needed food, water and shelter.

Map of the East Africa crisis in Ethiopia

Map of Ethiopia

The number of people affected by the 2017 East Africa crisis in Ethiopia.

Why we work in Ethiopia

A series of failed rainy seasons caused by El Niño resulted in the worst drought in Ethiopia in 30 years in 2017. Over 10 million people were in need of emergency assistance.

Ethiopia’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world but the long-term effects of civil war, drought and famine in the 1970s and 1980s mean that almost two thirds of Ethiopians are illiterate and 2.8 million children are not in school. Most of these children are girls living in rural areas and children with disabilities.

  • 74
    74% of women have undergone FGM.
  • 41
    41% of girls are married by their 18th birthday.
  • 33
    One third of Ethiopians live below the poverty line of less than US $1.25 per day.

In Ethiopia three out of four people make a living through farming. Nearly half of these farmers are women, who are often denied the right to own or inherit land because of their gender.  

Female genital mutilation, a brutal practice which can cause death and countless health complications, is common. Girls are taken out of school, and once they are cut, they are often then forced into early marriage. 

What we do in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, ActionAid helps women to set up savings and credit cooperatives. We train women to keep bees, rear animals, grow vegetables and start weaving businesses. We also provide women with information on their inheritance and property rights so they can claim what is rightfully theirs.

ActionAid trains women to recognise, prevent and report all forms of violence against women and girls. Members of our Women’s Watch Groups learn about their rights, and feel more confident about reporting cases of child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) as a result. 

We also support girls’ access to education. We work with parent-and-teacher associations and local governments to renovate schools destroyed in recent wars. We have installed clean water facilities, separate toilets for girls and boys and supplied schools with library books and teaching resources. 

Our work with pre-school children has also helped to change attitudes towards girls’ education. In Amhara Region in northern Ethiopia, we built several pre-schools and trained teachers in early childhood development. This work has been endorsed by the Ethiopian government, who have opened a further 40 pre-schools across the state in the last two years.

How we’re changing lives for good in Ethiopia

In 2014, ActionAid helped 230,000 girls finish primary school and 35,000 women to earn a living in Ethiopia. In 2013, groups from across Ethiopia worked together to prevent 157 cases of early marriage and 231 cases of FGM.