Ethiopia Humanitarian Aid

Where We Work - Ethiopia

Save the Children in Ethiopia

Save the Children has been a significant presence in Ethiopia since 1984, when we arrived to provide life-saving food, water and health services for over half a million people devastated by famine. Today, our programs have grown significantly to meet the persistent challenges that confront Ethiopia, one of the world's poorest countries. Our work focuses on its chronic poverty and food insecurity, the poor health of the general population, a growing HIV/AIDS crisis and a substandard education sector.

Our Results in Ethiopia

  • We kept 177,976 children safe from harm.
  • More than 2,096,685 children got the opportunity to learn.
  • In times of crisis, 194,659 children received emergency relief.
  • We reached 71,846 people to help fight the spread of AIDS, care for the sick and protect orphans left behind by the terrible disease.
  • To help parents feed their children, 246,226 received support to start businesses, improve farming practices and invest in their children’s futures.
  • To fight malnutrition, nearly 1,783,958 received nutritious food and vital supplements.

The following items in our gift catalog benefit programs in Ethiopia. Shop now!


Give a Chick

Baby chicks grow to produce protein-rich eggs that provide essential nutrients. Excess eggs and additional chicks can be sold in markets to support families.


Give a Cow

Cows provide protein-rich milk that boosts nutrition. With a small herd, families can earn a steady income selling excess milk.

Educate a Girl

Educate a Girl

For less than 20 cents per day, a girl can receive the books, learning materials and school access needed to learn and thrive. The results are life changing.

Mosquito Net

Give a Mosquito Net

In rural communities where malaria is prevalent, quality bed nets save lives by protecting children and families from mosquitoes.

Explore Our Programs

East Africa Food Crisis

Save the Children is provide life-saving help to children and families in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia whose lives are at risk due to severe food shortages sparked by drought, crop failures and livestock deaths. The UN has called this East Africa’s worst drought in 60 years.

Millions of children are in danger of becoming critically malnourished due to severe droughts in the region. Save the Children is already on the ground saving lives. We're rapidly providing food, water, medicine and crucial support to families who have lost their incomes.

Since the famine in 1984, Save the Children has grown to meet the constant challenges of a country that ranks as one of the five or six least developed in the world. Through humanitarian response and development programs throughout the country, we continue to improve the health, education and well-being of children and their families, making a difference in the lives of over 4.8 million Ethiopians.

Challenges for Children

The issues that children in Ethiopia face are some of the most challenging in the world. Even in an "average" year, the education, health and economic situation for millions of Ethiopian children can only be described as a crisis.

Frequent food shortages and periodic famine-like conditions continue to put children at risk. With inadequate health care services, many children die before reaching the age of 5. Of those that survive, only 36 percent of children attend primary or secondary school. In addition, the HIV/AIDS crisis is devastating families at a rate that is destabilizing entire communities, leaving many children orphaned and at risk for exploitation.

Our Response

In Ethiopia, Save the Children has implemented cross-cutting strategies that focus on strengthening partnerships with local as well as key international agencies. Through this structure, we create stronger community-based solutions coupled with advocacy on a national level. The result means significantly more impact for our programs and their ensured sustainability. Specifically, we've focused on education, health, food security, HIV/AIDS prevention/education and saving newborn lives.


Save the Children's education goals in Ethiopia have concentrated on ensuring the basic education of many who wouldn't ordinarily get schooling. These include girls as well as children in pastoral communities who don't have schools where they live. By using our own inexpensive school models that provide flexible schedules, relevant curricula and active community participation in the educational process, we've been able to create positive change in these sectors. Another part of our strategy has been to strengthen the role of PTA's, Girls Education Advisory Committees and Girls Clubs, which has also helped to strengthen educational opportunities for Ethiopian children.


The rates of maternal, newborn and child deaths in Ethiopia are among the highest in the world. Save the Children has made significant strides by working in communities to educate mothers on basic life-saving information and nutrition, for themselves and their children. In addition, we supply key services such as vaccinations and quality family planning information, including information on how to combat HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Part of our success has been a result of linkages with other program components, particularly in the education sector, to include health education as part of the education curriculum.

Food Security

Food security in Ethiopia continues to be in an ongoing crisis that impacts many other aspects of peoples' lives. Currently, 5 million Ethiopians are chronically food insecure. Save the Children's response includes a focus on pastoralist communities in the south of the country, which is the area most often hit by famine. The goals here are to:
  • Preserve and recover range land;
  • Increase access to veterinary services;
  • Encourage alternative livelihoods, particularly for women; and
  • Support improved nutritional practices, especially for mothers and their young children.


Because of the enormity of Ethiopia's HIV/AIDS problem, Save the Children has taken an aggressively comprehensive approach, focusing simultaneously on prevention, care, support and mitigation through community-based channels. Our strategy strongly emphasizes reaching orphans and other vulnerable children, as well as high-risk groups such as transport and commercial sex workers in urban and rural areas. Our novel program has been cited for its innovation by the national HIV and AIDS structure, the HIV and AIDS Prevention Council and Ministry of Health.

Saving Newborn Lives

Ethiopia has a neonatal mortality rate of 49/1000 births — one of the highest in the world — with tetanus infection being the second major cause of infant/neonatal death. Save the Children's approach has been to educate mothers on healthful practices while encouraging utilization of key services, like tetanus vaccinations, to improve the health of themselves and their newborns. This initiative is part of a nationwide behavioral change strategy, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). Together, we've improved the health of over 2.8 million women by providing tetanus vaccinations and promoting clean delivery practices.

Life in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a land of great natural beauty, with many mountain ranges and national parks. Even though it is near the equator, the climate is varied, because of the wide range in elevations. Natural disasters are frequent here, with droughts and floods common. These have a devastating effect on the largely agricultural societies that inhabit the region.

The official language is Amharic, a Semitic language, spoken by about 27 million people. The second most popular language is Oromo, a Cushitic language, spoken by about 30 percent of the population.

The government of Ethiopia is considered a multi-party democracy, represented by a federal parliamentary republic.

Sponsor a Child in Ethiopia

Sponsorship is a special kind of giving that creates a relationship between you and the community in which Save the Children is helping to create real and lasting change. It provides more than the satisfaction that comes with aid for improving the health and well-being of children; it delivers a special opportunity to witness young lives lifted over time. Through child sponsorship, two lives are changed forever: yours and the life of your sponsored child.

Ethiopia Facts and Statistics

  • Population: 96,633,458
  • Infant Death Rate: 68.3 in 1,000 live births
  • Life Expectancy: 60.8 years
  • Underweight Children: 29.2%
  • Human Development Rank: 173 out of 187 countries
  • Maternal Death Risk: 1 in 67 women
  • Girls' Education: 6.6 years
  • Income per capita: 380 (USD)


Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s 2014 State of the World’s Mothers report.You can access detailed data here.

Other sources as follows: Population and Life Expectancy: CIA World Factbook 2014; Human Development Rank: United Nations Development Programme 2014; Underweight Children: World Health Organization Report 2014

Last Updated June 2014

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