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In profile: Ethiopia

As part of an ongoing series, we look at Ethiopia and its progress towards achieving the SDGs.

Capital: Addis Ababa

Population: c. 104 million

Ethiopia is a landlocked state, stretching over 1.1 million square km across the Horn of Africa. With a population of 104 million people, it is the second most populous nation on the continent. It has suffered periodic draughts and famines, which led to a long civil conflict in the 20th century.

One of the founding members of the UN, Ethiopia is the largest contributor of the peacekeeping forces in the world, and currently focuses on social and economic issues, as well as maintaining security and peace in its neighbourhood and worldwide.

While a low-income country, Ethiopia has the fastest growing economy in the region. However, it is also one of the poorest countries in the area. The expansion of agriculture, construction, and tertiary services accounted for the country’s big GDP jump in 2017 (10% compared to a regional average of 5%). Higher economy growth positively impacted on poverty reduction, both in urban and rural areas. Nevertheless, 23% of the population still lives in extreme poverty (in 2018, down from 55% in 2000).

Ethiopia’s government aims to reach lower-middle-income status by 2025 – aiming to boost infrastructure work through public investment projects and transform the country into a manufacturing hub.

Progress towards the SDGs

Ethiopia is currently ranking 128 out of 156 countries on the SDG Global rank scale. Compared to the regional average, Ethiopia performs slightly above it (0.8% on global index score) and is on track to achieve three goals by 2030 – eradicating poverty, establishing gender equality, and progressing climate action. Major challenges remain in achieving progress towards peace, justice, and strong institutions; however, the recent peace treaty with Eritrea might boost the progress on this end.

Development challenges

On its way to achieve lower-middle-income status and support the 2030 SDG Agenda, Ethiopia faces various opportunities and challenges. Below are the most important ones to prioritise to support human development and reduce poverty in the country:

  • Boost economy

Creating more jobs and improving overall governance are Ethiopia’s main objectives for sustaining economic growth and reducing poverty. Significant investments in public services helped the country accelerate its growth, however, finding sustainable ways to boost industrialisation will be crucial to maintaining it.

  • Expand private sector

Ethiopia’s private sector is underdeveloped and cannot contribute to the country’s economic growth. According to the World Bank report, stronger private sector would strengthen Ethiopia’s trade competitiveness and resilience to shocks. Foreign investment into the private sector is important to make the growth more sustainable.

  • Improve learning outcomes

While primary school enrolment has seen significant rise in the past two decades, quality of education has not kept pace. Low learning outcomes and high dropout rates, especially for girls, still persist and further support is needed to achieve the equitable education for all.

  • Reduce mother and newborn mortality

Ethiopia is one of the 10 countries in the world with the highest number of newborn deaths, with the newborn mortality rate reaching 27.6 (deaths per 1,000 live births) in 2016. While there have been substantial gains in reducing child mortality and improving antennal care, maternal mortality still remains high.

  • Improve access to clean water

Unsafe water, especially in rural areas, is a major constraint in achieving good health and nutrition outcomes. Diarrhoea remains the highest disease burden in Ethiopia, and significantly contributes to the number of anaemic and underweight people, with children and mothers disproportionately affected by the lack of access to clean water and nutritious food.

Image credit: rvdw images /