After enjoying years of a growing economy, a significant number of people in Ethiopia are facing conflict, climate change, and extreme hunger.

Ethiopia has had one of the fastest growing economies in the Horn of Africa region—and the world—in the last two decades. But the benefits of this growth have not been equally shared among the country’s 100 million people, and the COVID-19 pandemic, recurring drought, and conflict in the northern part of the country threaten Ethiopia’s hopes and its path out of poverty.

The majority of Ethiopians in rural areas rely on rain-fed agriculture for their subsistence, but climate change, shortage in public and private investment in the sector, as well as conflict in some areas—and an upsurge of desert locusts in 2020-2021—have had negative effects on food production and incomes. As many as 20.4 million people across Ethiopia require food support, according to the World Food Program. It is one of four countries in East Africa where Oxfam is responding to extreme hunger.

Oxfam is addressing urgent humanitarian needs in multiple areas, while also tackling the root causes of poverty by helping people make a decent living and adapt to and survive climate change. We also work to empower women and girls in all our programs and ensure women can advocate for their rights and participate in making policies that affect their lives.

What are Oxfam’s solutions to help people in Ethiopia?

Oxfam is working with local partner organizations in Ethiopia to fight inequality, and to end poverty and injustice. Active in the country since the 1970s, Oxfam is both responding to emergencies to help people survive immediate short-term crises, such as drought and conflict, and also working long term to help provide more sustainable solutions to inequality, poverty, and injustice.

Helping people in Ethiopia survive in the short term

Helping people in Ethiopia thrive over the long term

Hoden Abdi Iwal (left) and her neighbors get water from a reservoir near her home in the Somali Region in Ethiopia. The area has suffered from drought in recent years, and families in this area reported food shortages.
Villagers near Gilo, in Ethiopia’s southern Somali region, draw water from a reservoir. The area is experiencing frequent climate-induced drought. Pablo Tosco / Oxfam Intermón

Creating sustainable solutions for farmers

Oxfam helps farmers, especially youth and women in rural areas, to develop climate-smart approaches to agriculture that improves production and livestock health. Working with local partners, we promote ways to improve the availability and efficiency of water resources, organic farming, and training in business and entrepreneurial skills development.

For example, we help women farmers in rural areas raise bees and produce honey. In 2020, one group increased its production by 60 percent by improving its practices, and the women are earning more per kilo than the previous year. Elsewhere in the country, training by Oxfam and partners has helped 12,355 maize and wheat farming families achieve an average of 30 percent improvement in their crop yields.

Million Ali (left) prepares to inject antibiotics into Ismael Muhammad’s camel, Addawee. Addawee suffers from an infected wound on her mouth, an injury sustained from eating cactus.
Oxfam staff in the Somali region gives a camel an injection of antibiotics to treat it for infection. Veterinary services are crucial during times of drought, to help animals and pastoralist families survive. Petterik Wiggers / Oxfam

Coping with a changing climate

In areas where climate change is affecting farmers and herders, Oxfam is working with local partner organizations to help people adapt to and survive unpredictable rainfall and drought. We have helped families improve the diversity of their diet in the last year (2020-2021), increasing the percentage of households consuming five or more different types of food from 35 percent to nearly 48 percent. We’re also increasing the proportion of farming families getting veterinary care for their animals to go from 18 percent to 80 percent.

A woman collects parts of a failed sorghum harvest to feed to livestock. Recurrent drought and locusts have made growing crops difficult in the southern Somali region of Ethiopia. Petterik Wiggers / Oxfam

Advancing gender justice

Oxfam is working with women’s rights organizations to ensure more women in Ethiopia can exercise their civil and political rights, participate in decision-making processes, benefit from economic and social advancement opportunities, and enjoy a life free from sexual and gender-based violence. Our programs range from raising awareness of women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health care, to training judges and other officials on the rights of women to own and access assets such as land. In addition, Oxfam supports more than 300 community-based women self-help groups that make it possible for thousands of women to borrow money to start small businesses.

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