Washing hands in Ethiopia




Capital City:

Addis Ababa


108 million

Life expectancy:

male 60.5 years, female 65.5 years

Population with improved drinking water:

urban 93.1%, rural 48.6%

Population with improved sanitation:


Percentage of children under the age of 5 underweight:


Literacy rate:

male 57.2%, female 41.1%

Child labour:



Ethiopian Orthodox 43.5%, Muslim 33.9%, Protestant 18.5%, traditional 2.7%, Catholic 0.7%, other 0.6% (2007)

Percentage living below the poverty line:


A little bit of history

Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country. Other than a brief spell of Italian occupation from 1936–41, the country has avoided colonial rule. In 1974, the military deposed Emperor Haile Selassie, who had ruled since 1930, and established a socialist state. However, bloody coups, wide scale droughts, famine and ongoing war with neighbouring Eritrea devastated the country in the decades that followed. The first multi-party elections were held until 1995.

How the country makes a living

Like the majority of developing countries in Africa, Ethiopia’s economy relies on agriculture. The most famous of Ethiopia’s exports is coffee, which is actually believed to have originated in the country. But the well-publicised droughts and unstable climate have posed problems for farmers.

In an attempt to reduce the reliance on agriculture, the government is pushing to diversify into manufacturing, textiles, and energy generation. Progress is being made, but, as the world’s most populous landlocked country, Ethiopia faces many challenges and remains one of the poorest countries on earth.

Challenges faced by children

Being a child is tough in Ethiopia. Schools, particularly in rural communities, are rare and poorly resourced. With such reliance on agriculture, many children are expected to work rather than go to school. In fact, 52% of all children are involved in some sort of child labour. Ethiopian girls face the ongoing challenge for equality, too. The median age for a girl in Ethiopia to get married is just 16.5 years old and many are denied the education that could help delay marriage and improve their economic situation.

Compassion in Ethiopia

Compassion's work in Ethiopia began in 1993. Currently, more than 123,250 children participate in more than 543 child development centres.

What sponsored children learn in ethiopia

Project days in Ethiopia are generally held on Saturdays. During a typical project day, sponsored children will learn topics such as …

9.00am Prayer and devotion time.

9.30am Spiritual lessons. Children sing songs and learn Bible stories.

10.30am Break time. Children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships.

11.00am Social lessons. From conflict resolution to developing healthy self-esteem and a Godly character, children who often come from challenging home environments are taught social and personal skills.

12.00pm Snacks and social time. Light snacks are provided at the project including bread, tea and crackers. Every three months, supplementary grain and cooking oil is provided to families. If a child shows evidence of malnutrition, project staff will seek a doctor’s advice and then provide additional food to the family accordingly.

13.00pm Health lessons. Children are taught practical health and hygiene tips. Example topics include how to prevent malaria, HIV/AIDS, and the prevention, recognition and response to child abuse.

14.00pm Letter writing and career Planning. Older children work with project staff to identify their strengths and interests, setting realistic goals for their future.

Teenagers also take part in skill training and professional training depending on their area of interest. The students often receive a professional certification in the skill they are learning. Children in Ethiopian projects are offered additional classes in topics including work ethics, study skills and ‘Start your own Business’.

Sponsor a child in Ethiopia

Why sponsor a child in Africa


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