Ethiopia

Why are we in Ethiopia? Ethiopia is a country particularly vulnerable to weather-related shocks, such as droughts and floods, with over 80% of the rural population dependent on rain-fed agriculture. It faces the added challenge of hosting over 800,000 refugees from other countries (as per UNCHR data).

An estimated 30 million people are living below the food poverty line

The most recent Human Development Index places Ethiopia 173 out of 189 countries, despite a steady rise in GDP and ongoing overall improvements in reducing poverty since 2000. A significant proportion of the population remains vulnerable to climatic and other shocks. Ethiopia is still recovering from its worst protracted drought in decades (2016 and 2017), exacerbated by simultaneous internal conflicts, the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, and by the swarms of desert locusts affecting crops. Childhood mortality and stunting, however, have declined substantially in recent years but large regional differences still persist.

Ethiopia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change

This is not only because the country is prone to droughts and floods, but also because the majority of Ethiopians (80-85%) depend on agriculture and pastoralism for their livelihoods. With each successive drought and flood, the impact gets even greater — especially on poverty, hunger, and livelihoods — as those furthest behind face even greater barriers and struggle to catch up. The 2011 Horn of Africa drought left 4.5 million Ethiopians in need of food assistance.

Drought is especially dangerous here as Ethiopia is also prone to the effects of El Niño and La Niña: When the country experienced two consecutive failed rainy seasons in 2015 (resulting in the lowest recorded rainfalls in 55 years for some parts of the country), this weather emergency was exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon — a warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs every two to seven years. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs labelled the 2015-16 El Niño one of the 3 strongest episodes on record, with lasting impact on 60 million people around the world. 9.7 million of those people were Ethiopian.

The climate crisis has exacerbated extreme weather events in Ethiopia. The El Niño phenomenon is a warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs every two to seven years. During an El Niño event, sea surface temperatures across the Pacific can increase by 1–3°F for anything between a few months and two years.

The last big El Niño happened in 1998, and due to climate change and the general trend towards a warmer global ocean, experts are unsure exactly how this one will play out. What can be observed from current trends however, is that the impact around the world is becoming more extreme. 

Latest achievements

Programme impact

In 2020, Concern’s emergency nutrition response programmes reached over 253,000 of the most vulnerable Ethiopians. This included treating over 75,000 cases of moderate or acute malnutrition in children, and pregnant and lactating women at 230 nutrition sites, and reaching almost 154,000 people with information and education about how to ensure good nutrition and health for babies and young children.

Graduation model

Country strategic plan

Abamoltho Gudra cooks for her five children using her eco stove in the Pugnido refugee camp in Gambella. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.
Abamoltho Gudra cooks for her five children using her eco stove in the Pugnido refugee camp in Gambella. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.
Ishmael shares his traditional tukul home with his wife and four children. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.
Ishmael shares his traditional tukul home with his wife and four children. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.
Concern provided Ahimed with rootstocks and scions to grow potatoes and apples. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.
Concern provided Ahimed with rootstocks and scions to grow potatoes and apples. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.
Mehamed's family grow potatoes, as well as apples. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.
Mehamed's family grow potatoes, as well as apples. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.
Shuble Baza, who works at a Concern supported nursery in Uguna Fango, Southern Ethiopia. Photo: Kieran McConville / Concern Worldwide.
Shuble Baza, who works at a Concern supported nursery in Uguna Fango, Southern Ethiopia. Photo: Kieran McConville/ Concern Worldwide.

RTÉ Nationwide programme visit

In 2019, Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ travelled to Ethiopia to mark Concern Worldwide’s 50th anniversary and showcase the work being done by Concern in the country. Nationwide presenter Mary Kennedy was joined by our Director of International Programmes Anne O’Mahony as she visited the province of Wollo to examine the impact of donations made by the Irish public to Concern in response to the Ethiopian famine 35 years ago.

In addition, the crew spent time in Addis Ababa to learn more about Concern’s vocational skills programmes. This special edition of Nationwide was broadcast on RTÉ One in January 2019.

Part 1

Part 2

How we're helping Ethiopia

We are working hard to combat suffering and build resilience in Ethiopia. We are doing this by establishing programmes which will improve livelihoods, tackle gender equality and increase humanitarian response.

Livelihoods
Gender equality
Humanitarian response
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  • Millions of people on the brink of starvation

  • Estimated that a person is dying of hunger every 48 seconds across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia

  • 5.7 million children are facing starvation

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