We support approximately 664,600 children and young people in 36 projects in Ethiopia and have worked on the Horn of Africa since 1972. Our projects are distributed throughout the country and are run by local partners.


Combating drought and harmful traditions

Ethiopia ranks among the world's poorest countries. The country regularly experiences severe droughts. Children suffer particularly from the constant food shortages, child labour, lack of educational opportunities and HIV/AIDS. It is above all girls who are forced to endure pernicious traditional practices like early marriage and genital mutilation.

Working closely with our partners, we support families, primarily mothers, as they are mainly responsible for the children's well being. With additional education, they can stand on their own two feet financially, send the children to school and provide them with a healthy diet. In self-help groups, for example, they learn alternative methods of cultivation that produce improved harvests and are taught how to build water reservoirs to offset periods of drought. Thanks to intensive educational trainings, they no longer have their daughters circumcised or marry them off as minors.

Severe challenges

A woman i holding her starving child. (Source: Dietmar Roller)
Somali drought refugees in an ethiopian refugee camp

For a number of decades now, Ethiopia has become a synonym for poverty, deadly droughts and hunger. The drought of 2011 on the Horn of Africa affected nearly five million people in Ethiopia alone.

With nearly 94 million people, Ethiopia is the second most populous country on the African continent, and its rapidly growing population will further worsen the country’s food security situation. The average annual income in Ethiopia is $370, which makes it one of the poorest countries in the world. Nearly one-third of the population was living below the poverty line in 2012.

The everyday lives of children and young people are often marred by poverty, domestic violence and dim prospects for the future. Today, 4.6 million children are orphans. They live with their grandparents, at home alone as a household of children, or end up on the streets. Half of the country's children have to work. Many girls and women undergo the harmful practice of genital mutilation, which can have lethal consequences. Another widespread practice is early marriage, which can have serious repercussions for girls. Their health can be permanently damaged by pregnancies at a far too early age

Ninety-six percent of all children attend primary school, but only half of them graduate. As a result, many children can barely read and write. There are far too few schools and teachers, instruction is of poor quality, and classes of 70 children and more are not uncommon.

  • Our work in the country

    Our partner projects focus on protecting the physical integrity of children, particularly girls. They also promote the schooling and vocational training of children and youth. Sustainable agriculture and improved access to drinking water ensures that families have a sustainable livelihood even during times of drought.

    Our work focuses on children in dire circumstances, including street children, working children, orphans, and children with special needs.

    Participatory programmes that involve the local population, like self-help groups for women, are crucial. When mothers learn about balanced nutrition, hygiene, and disease prevention – and share their experiences with each other –, children in local villages or urban districts have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy physical and mental development. By collectively saving small amounts of money, the women improve their families’ economic situations and can escape the vicious cycle of poverty.

    We collaborate with many organisations to identify the most suitable approach in each local context. This allows us to launch effective programmes together with most specialised and qualified partners.

  • Key figures on Ethiopia

    • 96.6 million people live in Ethiopia
    • 44 % of all Ethiopians are under the age of 15
    • The average life expectancy in Ethiopia is 61 years
    • 39 % of the population lives below the poverty line
    • 4.5 million children are orphans, 0.9 million of them because of AIDS*
    • 27 % of all children have to work*

    Sources: World Factbook, United Nations*

  • Ethiopia – the land of severe droughts

    In 2010, the United Nations passed a resolution recognising the human right to water and sanitation. In Ethiopia not even half of the population has access to clean drinking water.

    Over the past 30 years, there have been seven severe droughts and numerous regionally limited dry periods. It used to be that periods of drought would occur once every 25 or 30 years, but now they occur every four or five years.

    In 2011 Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia were hit by the worst drought in 60 years. Although Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world, it took in some 220,000 refugees from Somalia. Today, most of them live in camps in Dolo Ado (Somali Region).

    At the time, Kindernothilfe helped some 200,000 people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya to survive, including 130,000 children. The aid included food, tents, blankets, cookware, baby food, and medicine. Establishing children centres has proven a particularly effective means of creating oases in chaos that offer children protection, food and school instruction, along with psychological and medical care. Even after the humanitarian crisis was over, Kindernothilfe carried on and supported local populations with long-term projects to improve their food supply and increase the readiness for the next drought.

    Emergency assistance for drought victims 2016

Ethiopia: Help for street children

Ethiopia: Help for street children

Violence, hard work, begging - bitter poverty forces many children in Ethiopia to live on the streets. Help us getting those children off the streets!

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Emergency assistance for drought victims

Emergency assistance for drought victims

Ethiopia is suffering from the worst drought in over 30 years. More than 10 million people are threatened by famine. Kindernothilfe is supplying emergency assistance.

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How we work

How we work

Learn more about how we realize children’s rights.

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