Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa and has a population of 80.7 million. It is Africa’s oldest independent country but remains one of the world’s poorest, although progress has been made in recent years. Child mortality has fallen, access to health improved and advances have been made in primary education, in part due to the MDG commitment. The government is also introducing a new Growth and Transformation Plan (PASDEP 2).
Yet UNDP’s Human Poverty Index 2009 places Ethiopia 171 out of 182 countries. One-third of the population survive on less than US$1 a day; it ranks 21st in the world in under-5 mortality rate; and just 24 per cent of Ethiopians have access to clean drinking water.
Eighty-five per cent of Ethiopians are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, which has been volatile for the past 20 years as a result of large variations in rainfall. Almost half the population are hit during drought years. Food insecurity is a chronic issue as many families are unable to buy or grow enough food to feed themselves, and so need food aid each year to survive. The effects on children are devastating.
Most of Ethiopia’s children remain very poor and continue to live with ‘not enough’ in terms of food and goods, household assets, basic services and opportunities.
One in every 13 children dies before reaching their first birthday, while one in every eight does not survive until they are 5 years old.
Ethiopian children have high levels of malnutrition. Nearly one in two (47 per cent) children under 5 are stunted (short for their age), 11 per cent wasted (thin for their height), and 38 per cent underweight.
Despite significant recent investment to increase primary school enrolment, in Ethiopia schools are still characterised by inadequate facilities and low professional capacity. There are significant discrepancies in children’s attendance between urban and rural locations, between boys and girls, and between/within regional states. Literacy is low, at 31 per cent for rural and 74 per cent for urban residents.
Wealth is of course a key determinant of children’s well-being but our research into children’s own perceptions of poverty show that other dimensions matter as well – relative poverty often affects children more than absolute poverty, with urban children feeling worse off even though they are objectively better off than their rural counterparts.
With the Young Lives Round 3 data soon to be available, together with qualitative data and sub-studies on social protection, education (such as the School Survey) and risk and vulnerability, Young Lives in Ethiopia will be uniquely placed to assess whether any progress recorded has been sustained, whether inequalities have been reduced or become entrenched, what the impacts of the global economic crisis, drought and food inflation have been, and how children’s experiences of their well-being have evolved.
BBC country profile web page; UNICEF country web page and The State of the World’s Children 2009; Save the Children country web page; 2007/2008/2009 Human Development Report; Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey 2005 (infant and child mortality); 2004 Welfare Monitoring Survey (literacy); Young Lives Round 2 Survey: Country Report
Our sample sites
Young Lives research is based in 20 communities in the states of Amhara, Oromia, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNP) and Tigray, as well as in the capital, Addis Ababa. Together, these five areas cover different geographical regions, levels of development, urban/rural locations and population characteristics. For a map showing the sites, a full description of the sample and key findings so far, follow the links.
In Ethiopia Young Lives works with the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) and Save the Children.
Key team members (see complete list on staff page)
Country Director: Alula Pankhurst
Principal Investigator: Tassew Woldehanna, EDRI
Lead Qualitative Researcher: Yisak Tafere
Contact the team
To contact the team in Ethiopia, email Simret Yasabu, Communications Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org)