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 Program's 2014 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, and the country is on track to achieving six of the eight millenium development goals. 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 agricultural productivity, expand the coverage of basic services, such as health and education services, and increase infrastructure required for economic growth. These gains remain fragile, though, as the country continues to be highly vulnerable to inflationary pressures and shocks, especially climate-related events such as drought.

Ethiopia's continued investment in national programs that aim to meet household food needs and build resilience and 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.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in Ethiopia.

Thematic Focus

In 2014, Ethiopia reconfirmed 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 Global Affairs Canada focuses on food security, sustainable economic growth and advancing democracy and human rights, while continuing to support the health and rights of women and children.

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, is supporting the achievement of systematic improvements to numerous human development indicators, and as a result, real changes in the lives and well-being of some of Ethiopia’s most vulnerable people.

Health and rights of women and children

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. Global Affairs 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 2013-2014

Food Security, including the health and rights of women and children

  • Helped feed 6 million food insecure people through increased crop yields and improved soil resilience (less soil erosion) as a result of the rehabilitated degraded soil and water systems through the Productive Safety Net Program, people
  • Helped increase incomes of rice farmers (by 45 percent since 2010) and weavers (by 40 percent since 2010) through training in new techniques and technologies, and financial support for entrepreneurs working in the rice and textile industries
  • Provided community-based nutrition services (e.g. nutrition counselling for pregnant mothers, vitamin A supplements and deworming treatments for young children) to children younger than 5 years old, adolescent girls, and pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • In 100 food-insecure districts

Sustainable Economic Growth:

  • Provided training to 1,073 licensing officers on Ethiopia’s business licensing law and industrial classification system to improve the investment climate, and supported the drafting of a new directive on advance/binding tariff rulings
  • Provided training to 1,600 women entrepreneurs and distributed loans averaging $10,000 to 373 women owners of small and medium-sized businesses.

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to Ethiopia (in millions of dollars)

Global Affairs Canada107.17
Other departments and sources0.87