Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the Horn of Africa with a population of 80.7 million. Despite international commitments and sustained economic growth, almost 40 per cent of Ethiopians survive on less than 1.25 dollars a day. And although child mortality has fallen, access to healthcare has improved and advances have been made in primary education, the United Nations still ranks Ethiopia 174 out of 187 countries in terms of human development. Eighty-five per cent of Ethiopians are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood but rises in food prices and regular droughts mean that many families are unable to buy or grow enough food to feed themselves.

Eth14_boys running with tyresEthiopia’s high levels of poverty have a devastating impact on children. By talking to the children and their families, and conducting school and household surveys, we are building a comprehensive picture of what it is like for children living in a country where one in every eight dies before reaching their fifth birthday.

Research focus

Our research priorities focus on:

Nutrition, health and development: Malnutrition is a major threat to the survival and development of Ethiopian children. Nearly one in two children under 5 are stunted (short for their age), 11 per cent are wasted (thin for their height), and 38 per cent are underweight

Education: More children are going to school in Ethiopia than ever before – 82 per cent of children are now enrolled in primary schools across the country. However, literacy levels are still low and only 18 per cent of older children have completed primary school by age 15. A focus on education allows us to highlight inequalities and issues of quality and access.

Child work: Almost 84 per cent of children are engaged in some form of work and almost 2.8 million children are missing from school entirely. Making the connections between education and children’s work and their roles and responsibilities in the family helps us to demonstrate the effect on children’s opportunities.

Moving into adulthood: As some of our children are growing into adults, we can look into how this stage affects their lives – as some get married, have families of their own, or some continue at school.

Ethiopia study sites

Our sample sites

We are working in 20 communities in Addis Ababa, Amhara, Oromia, Southern National, Nationalities and People’s Region, and Tigray. These regions 96 per cent of the total population, and almost 97 per cent of the total number of children aged 18 months and below. We over-sampled poor and food-poor communities, and with some of the highest rates of poverty between them, our sites represent some of Ethiopia’s most poor and marginalised.

Our partners

Our research in Ethiopia is carried out in partnership with the Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) and Save the Children Ethiopia.

Contact the team

To contact the team, e-mail Lishan Woldemedhin, Communications and CRPF Coordinator (

More information

Visit the Young Lives Ethiopia website for more information and resources.


Ethiopian boys driving cartVisit our Young Lives Ethiopia website to find out more about our work in Ethiopia.


Our fact sheets present early, descriptive findings from Round 4:

Survey Design and Sampling in Ethiopia

Education and Learning

Nutrition and Health

Youth and Development

Find out more on the Findings and Data page of the Young Lives Ethiopia website.


In Ethiopia Young Lives works with:

The Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI)

Save the Children Ethiopia

Key team members:

Country Director: Alula Pankhurst, Pankhurst Consult
Principal Investigator: Tassew Woldehanna, EDRI
Lead Qualitative Researcher: Yisak Tafere, Save the Children
Communications and CRPF Coordinator: Lishan Woldemedihin, Save the Children

For complete list, see staff page

To contact the team in Ethiopia, email Lishan Woldemedihin, Communications and CRPF Coordinator (

We need to end child poverty in order to break the cycle of poverty.