Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations on earth with a multi-ethnic population and rich history. Sadly, it is also one of the world’s poorest.  Thirty-eight percent of the population lives below the poverty line, with 12 million people chronically food insecure and dependent on food aid.  Nearly half (44%) of children under five are stunted and about 29% of all children are under-weight.  This is further exacerbated by poor access to clean water and vulnerability to extreme weather conditions, such as annual droughts and flooding.  Ethiopians also suffer from a high disease burden. An estimated 1.1 million people are living with HIV in Ethiopia, and some 10 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS, making them vulnerable to life on the streets and the dangers of human trafficking.

Since 2005, PCI Ethiopia has built a strong reputation for community-based, integrated health and development programming, with programmatic expertise in food and nutrition security; water and sanitation; livelihoods strengthening; prevention of human trafficking; HIV/AIDS, with an emphasis on orphans and vulnerable children (OVC); women’s empowerment; maternal, newborn and child health; reproductive health; disaster risk reduction/ response; and capacity building of local organizations. PCI has experience working in six of the country’s nine regions, with a continued and deepening presence in the highly vulnerable, Afar region. PCI is dedicated to equipping communities with knowledge and resources to improve their own livelihoods, as reflected by innovative program platforms such as a successful women’s group savings model which has benefitted over 8,000 Ethiopian families.

PCI’s U.S. Department of State-funded Hope for Women project (2007-2010) developed community and school based systems for protecting women’s rights and promoting gender awareness and respect, in addition to self-help methods for women’s economic empowerment. The project effectively increased girl’s school attendance by over 20%, engaged over 600 women in income-generating activities, and made strides toward changing the attitudes of government officials and influential clan leaders in Ethiopia’s Afar region.

The project effectively empowered women to make decisions that affect their social and economic lives through an innovative self-help group approach called GROW (Grass Roots building Our Wealth). Women participating in these groups – which remain active today – have collectively saved over $150,000 of their own money, increased their self-esteem and sense of possibility for change in their own lives. Once established, GROW groups become a sustainable, ongoing business and economic development platform that is entirely directed and administered by the women themselves, without outside management, resources or long-term external support. In addition to financial gain, group members report numerous other benefits, such as increased community leadership and greater self-sufficiency, as well as tangible benefits in reproductive, maternal and child health. Today, nearly 14,000 Ethiopian women are participating in independently operated GROW groups from Addis Ababa to Afar, without any additional outside support, and based on the success of the model in Ethiopia, PCI is taking the model to scale worldwide.

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, malnutrition, poverty, HIV and maternal and child health are inextricably linked.  Malnutrition is both a risk factor and an outcome of HIV/AIDS; it increases individuals’ susceptibility to HIV and hinders HIV treatment. For example, while Anti-Retroviral Treatment adherence is vi¬tal for promoting good health and preventing the development of drug-resistant strains of HIV, adherence is difficult given that it requires a rigorous regimen and requires access to nutritional foods. Since 2006, PCI has collaborated with USAID’s International Food Relief Partnership (IFRP) to improve food and nutrition security for HIV+ pregnant mothers and children in Addis Ababa. Central to sustaining the benefits of this program is the promotion of a sustainable food security strategy involving urban gardening and poultry production. To date, the project has improved the food and nutrition security of 22,634 HIV+ pregnant women, HIV+ children, and related family members.

In Ethiopia, coffee farming is the primary source of income for many rural households, which also have some of the lowest coverage of water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. In response, in collaboration with The Starbucks Foundation, PCI is implementing the Sidama Coffee Farmers Health through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project. The project is designed to improve health outcomes of coffee farmers and their communities in the Sidama Zone of Southern Ethiopia.  Over the next two years, the project will bring increased access to safe drinking water to 10,000 people, and sanitation facilities to another 2,000. To promote long-term sustainability, the project will assist the Sidama Farmers Cooperative Union and its member farmers to improve resource management and will train 500 female coffee farmers in PCI’s GROW economic empowerment model.

Communities living in Afar are under continual threat due to scarcity of water, depletion of natural resources, volatile weather, as well as limited household income opportunities. PCI works in Afar’s most remote areas to reduce vulnerabilities to economic and environmental shocks and respond to emergencies when they strike. Among other challenges, Ethiopia is regularly hit by outbreaks of acute watery diarrhea (AWD). AWD is one of the major recurrent epidemic emergencies in Afar region, particularly during the rainy season when people more frequently use contaminated surface water for both human and animal consumption. With funding from the United Nations Humanitarian Response Fund, PCI has been working in flood-impacted areas to protect and treat drinking water; improve community hygiene and sanitation practices; and increase early detection treatment of AWD.

U.S. Agency for International Development, Starbucks Foundation Ethos Water Fund, private investors


Ethiopia Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Resource Manual
English PDF (15 MB)  //  Amharic PDF (17 MB)

Click here to read PCI’s Ethiopia fact sheet.