Children at the Adaa-Liben drop off site. © ACDI-CIDA/Patti Gower

The second most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa at 85 million people, Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest nations. Some 29.6 percent of the population lives on less than US$1.25/day. On the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 Human Development Index, Ethiopia ranks 173 out of 187 countries. Human development indicators are low, with exceptionally alarming statistics regarding food security and women's status and well-being. Despite having emerged as the most stable country in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia still faces several long-standing internal and external security challenges.

In spite of these enormous challenges, Ethiopia has made major development strides, since the 1984-1985 famine when it was the focus of world attention. Government programs such as the Productive Safety Net Program are addressing food insecurity and other Ethiopian priority development challenges. Poverty rates have fallen, the country has achieved one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—reducing child mortality by half—and is on track to achieving another five of the eight MDGs. In addition, the country has experienced unprecedented economic growth for more than a decade.

This progress has been the result of a series of good harvests and country-led investments to increase food security, expand the coverage of basic services, such as health and education services, and increase infrastructure required for economic growth. These gains remain fragile, as the country continues to be highly vulnerable to inflationary pressure and shocks, especially climate-related events such as drought.

Ethiopia's continued investment in national programs that aim to maintain household food supplies and build productive capacity is necessary in order to protect the fragile gains of the past decade and increase food security for Ethiopia’s people. Increased focus on measures that will support diversified economic growth, including those aimed at improving the environment for business growth and local and foreign investment, will also be key Ethiopia’s ability to sustain current rates of progress, both in terms of human development and economic growth.

Thematic Focus

In 2014, Ethiopia was confirmed as a country of focus for the Government of Canada’s international development efforts.

Canada  is the third-largest bilateral country donor in Ethiopia. The bilateral development program of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada will focus on food security and sustainable economic growth and advancing democracy and human rights, while continuing to support on-going maternal, newborn and child health programming.

The overall expected results for each main area of programming are:

  • increased food security and sustainable agricultural production and productivity;
  • increased contribution to job growth by small and medium-sized enterprises and the extractive sector;
  • strengthened accountability and responsiveness of government, including strengthened citizen participation in democratic processes.

These objectives have been identified by Ethiopia and Canada as central to poverty reduction and will help achieve Ethiopia’s development goals as set out in the Growth and Transformation Plan, which aims to:

  • sustain fast and equitable economic growth;
  • maintain agriculture as a major source of economic growth;
  • create favourable conditions for industry to play a key role in the economy;
  • enhance the expansion and quality of infrastructure development;
  • enhance the expansion and quality of social development;
  • build capacity and deepen good governance; and
  • promote women and youth empowerment and equitable distribution of benefits.

Canada, in partnership with Ethiopia, whose budget allocation for the benefit of the poor is among the highest in Africa, has helped its citizens and other development partners achieve systematic improvements to numerous human development indicators.

Maternal, newborn and child health

Key anticipated results

  • Improved nutritional status of children and pregnant and lactating women.

Food security

Canada is committed to supporting Ethiopia's efforts to achieve food security as a prerequisite to its sustainable development. Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada will continue to address the root causes of chronic food insecurity in Ethiopia, to improve the nutritional status of food insecure people and to increase agricultural productivity and farmers' incomes via improved production techniques and market-oriented approaches.

Key anticipated results

  • Chronically food insecure households have access to food all year long.
  • Improved capacity of farmers and supporting institutions to increase agricultural productivity.
  • Improved access to markets for farmers and rural producers (including female farmers/rural producers).
  • Improved soil and water conservation to avoid environmental degradation leading to food insecurity

Sustainable Economic Growth

Canada is complementing its focus on food security in Ethiopia by supporting programs that help diversify the economy and create employment opportunities outside of agriculture for Ethiopia’s growing labour force. In particular, Canada helps create a supportive environment for private sector growth and supports the development of small businesses, predominantly for women and youth. Canada will also support Ethiopia in developing its extractive sector in a way that delivers sustainable economic benefits, particularly at the community level.

Key anticipated results

  • Increased earnings and number of formal small and medium-sized businesses, particularly those owned by women and youth.
  • Improved business development and support services for urban entrepreneurs, particularly women and youth.
  • Greater access to finance for small businesses, particularly for women-owned businesses.
  • Improved regulatory and policy environment in support of private sector growth.
  • Improved national and local capacity to manage the extractive sector for economic and social growth.

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

Ethiopia's strong ownership of development priorities and planning, combined with its impressive commitment of national resources to antipoverty programs, make it a country where official development assistance produces results. Donors have responded with growing and increasingly harmonized aid commitments, resulting in lower transaction costs and greater impact.

The main challenge for aid effectiveness at present is the difficult environment for civil society. Donors continue to work together to facilitate dialogue between civil society and all levels of government.



Achievements 2011-2012

Children and youth

  • Contributed to 7.1 million children receiving essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Increased, by 55 percent, the detection of tuberculosis and successfully treated 85 percent of all cases reported in 314 remote rural villages in 12 districts of North Wollo Zone.
  • Trained more than 20,000 front-line health workers to treat childhood diseases from 2007 to 2012.
  • Contributed to an increase in the proportion of children vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus to 88 percent, and against measles to 86 percent.
  • Helped increase the proportion of births attended by health extension workers by 5 percent (to 34 percent).
  • Distributed anti-malarial bed nets to households in malaria-prone areas, maintaining a rate of 100 percent coverage.

Food security

  • Supported the Productive Safety Net Program, a cash-for-work program that helped feed 7.6 million people while at the same time addressing underlying causes of food insecurity through activities such as the construction of soil conservation structures and tree planting. This program, supported by Canada and other donors, is credited with preventing the 2011 drought in eastern Africa from becoming a crisis in Ethiopia on the scale seen in neighbouring countries.
  • Trained 3,274 health workers who contributed to improving the health and nutritional status of pregnant and breastfeeding women and of 1.5 million under-five children.

Achievements 2010-2011

Children and youth

  • Helped raise the vaccination rate to fight against diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus to 86 percent of all children in 2010, up from 82 percent in 2009 and 73 percent in 2008.
  • Helped raise the vaccination rate to fight against measles to 82 percent of all children, up from 79 percent in 2009.
  • Helped increase the number of births attended by health extension workers to 25 percent, up from 16 percent in 2008.
  • Contributed to procuring and distributing anti-malarial bednets to more than 750,000 households helping to decrease deaths from malaria by more than 55 percent.

Food security

  • Helped provide more than 7.8 million chronically food-insecure people in 305 districts with food or cash transfers to protect household assets when faced with food shortfalls.
  • Helped reduce the number of months a household is unable to meet food needs from 3.6 months in 2008 to 2.3 months in 2010.
  • Rehabilitated more than 90,000 hectares of degraded land, dug more than 34,000 ponds for irrigation and livestock water supply, and built more than 4,000 km of rural roads, improving farmers' access to markets and input supplies.

Achievements 2009-2010

Children and youth

  • Helped raise the vaccination rate against diptheria, whooping cough and tetanus to 82 percent of all children, up from 73 percent in 2008.
  • Helped raise the vaccination rate against measles to 77 percent of all children, up from 65 percent in 2008.
  • Helped increase the number of births attended by health extension workers to 25 percent, up from 16 percent in 2008.
  • Helped decrease malaria deaths in Ethiopia by more than 55 percent since earlier this decade.

Food security

  • Helped decrease the number of people vulnerable to food insecurity by 2 percent, with child malnutrition rates dropping 1.5 percent per year.
  • Helped train 6,213 farmers in integrated crop management, organic farming, and marketing.
  • Helped 455 farmers adopt environmental conservation measures, resulting in the protection of nearly 75 percent of their farmland from soil erosion.
  • Helped improve access to safe drinking water for 43,200 people.

International development projects in Ethiopia

Map of projects in Ethiopia
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CIDA Disbursements in Ethiopia: 2012-2013

CIDA Disbursements in Ethiopia
CIDA Disbursements$M
Long-Term Development Assistance131.8
Humanitarian Assistance13.19