PCI has been working in Ethiopia since 2005, building a strong reputation for community-based, integrated health and development programming.

  • woman and child
  • Ethiopia women

The Need

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.  Nearly 30% of the population lives below the poverty line, with 12 million people chronically food insecure and dependent on food aid.  Additionally, 40.4% of children under five are stunted and about 25.2% of all children are under-weight (World Bank). These poor health conditions are further exacerbated by limited access to clean water and vulnerability to extreme weather conditions, such as annual droughts and flooding. Around 1.2 million Ethiopians are living with HIV, 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 and two administrative cities, 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 its successful women’s social and economic empowerment model.

REGIONAL FOCUS: Addis Ababa, Afar, Oromia, SNNPR, Tigray

TECHNICAL EXPERTISE: Economic and Social Empowerment of women; Food and Nutrition Security; Disaster Risk Reduction & Response; Water & Sanitation; Maternal, Newborn & Child Health

Healthy & Empowered Women and Girls

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

Hope for Women reduced one of the most harmful traditional practices, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), by an astounding 90% in a sample of participants in the intervention areas by mobilizing men, women, and religious leaders, and engaging them in being part of the solution to shift norms.

The project effectively empowered women to make decisions that affect their social and economic lives through an innovative self-help group approach called Women Empowered (WE). 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. 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 15,300 Ethiopian women are participating in independently operated WE groups from Addis Ababa to Afar, without any additional outside support, and based on the success of the model in Ethiopia, PCI has taken the model to scale worldwide.

Emergency Drought Response and Recovery

The result of two successive failed rainy seasons, Ethiopia’s current drought has produced the worst food crisis in the country in 30 years. With no crops or rangeland to feed either themselves or their livestock, as many as 18 million people are at risk of hunger and disease. In response to this crisis, PCI is partnering with USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and Engineers Without Borders USA to provide assistance in four of the most impacted woredas in Afar. The ENDURE project (Ethiopia Emergency Drought Response and Rehabilitation) is taking a multi-faceted approach to responding to the current crisis through interventions including: providing supplemental feed for livestock; reinforcing capacity of local partners to provide veterinary assistance to livestock; increasing access to clean water; and reinforcing water, sanitation, and hygiene practices to prevent diseases common to drought, such as acute watery diarrhea.

Community-Managed Disaster Risk Reduction

With funding from USAID, PCI, together with three local partners, is implementing a three-year effort to support community-managed disaster risk reduction in the nine most vulnerable woredas of Bale Zone, Oromia Region, reaching total population of over 620,000. The project, known as Project REVIVE (REstoring VIbrant Villages and Environments) aims to increase vulnerable communities’ long-term resilience to climate-change and climate-related shocks through three strategic objectives: 1) Improved access to science and analysis for community-based DRR decision-making; 2) Improved household and community measures to adapt to climate variability, change and resulting shocks; 3) Enhanced community DRR and climate adaptation planning and processes integrated with, and supported through, the Government of Ethiopia and other resiliency initiatives.

Greener Pastures for Pastoralists

REVIVE is incorporating PCI’s promising “SAPARM” model, which is providing pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in Afar and Oromia with critical information to inform decisions on where to migrate their herds in order to reduce potential livestock loss and mitigate the effects of climate change. Following the implementation of a successful pilot project funded by USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, PCI is currently scaling up the SAPARM initiative to other communities in Ethiopia and Tanzania and has garnered the financial support of additional public and private sector partners such as the Google Foundation.

In June 2016, Classy—the world’s first social impact platform with the goal of helping organizations solve social problems more effectively and efficiently—selected PCI’s SAPARM model as a winner in the 6th Annual Classy Awards.

Bringing Clean Water to Farming Communities

In collaboration with The Starbucks Foundation, PCI recently implemented the Sidama Coffee Farmers Health through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project in Ethiopia’s SNNPR region. The project increased access to safe drinking water for 10,500 people and provided sanitation facilities to another 1,452. To promote long-term sustainability, the project assisted the Sidama Farmers Cooperative Union to improve resource management and organized 2,069 women coffee farmers into 108 Women Empowered groups. To date, these groups have collectively saved $23,423 and have initiated over 1,642 small businesses.

Recent Program Highlights

Local Capacity Building

Over the past three years, PCI built the capacity of 12 local organizations to provide holistic care and support to 60,000 orphans, street youth, and children who have been made vulnerable due to HIV/AIDS.

Child Trafficking

In January 2011, PCI published the Resource Manual of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) in Ethiopia, the first such manual developed on TIP in Ethiopia in both Amharic and English. The manual will help regional and local police, teachers, and other community leaders gain practical knowledge, skills and tools to prevent TIP, protect TIP victims and to promote the prosecution of traffickers.

Orphans and Vulnerable Children

From 2004-2010, PCI’s BELONG program strengthened over 500 local organizations in Zambia and Ethiopia and provided direct services to nearly 252,000 OVC and over 15,700 OVC caregivers.

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