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Ethiopia got its independence
Never Colonised
% of population in multi-dimensional poverty
Amharic, Oromifa, Somaligna & Tigrigna and other ethnic languages
Year ChildFund entered

Under-five Mortality Rate (2015): 59 deaths per 1,000 live births (ranked 37 of 193). Source: UNICEF SOWC Report, 2016.

Human Development Index (HDI) (2014): 0.442 (ranked 174 of 188). Source: UNDP, Human Development Report, 2015.

Number of enrolled children FY15: 37,312
Number of beneficiaries FY15: 1,024,675

Children and Community members in Ethiopia

Brief History of ChildFund in Ethiopia

Since 1971, when ChildFund Ethiopia was established, our focus has been on children. Our twofold purpose as an organisation is to help deprived, excluded, and vulnerable (DEV) children to improve their lives and become adults who bring positive change to their communities, and to promote societies that value, protect and advance the worth and rights of children. Much of our earliest work centred on working with affiliated communities in the traditional “Family Helper Projects” that contributed and ensured ChildFund’s resources were effectively and efficiently applied to the direct benefits of youth and children. However, our experience and deepening understanding of social change led us to our current strategy, in which children are at the centre of a web of individuals and institutions – parents, family, community, government and non-governmental actors – whose contributions must be leveraged if children are to thrive. ChildFund Ethiopia engages with families and communities through 13 Local Partners in four regions (Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities and People, and Addis Ababa), serving about 37,300 children and 300,000 families directly and over one million community members indirectly – all in an effort to achieve positive outcomes for children. In addition, as an organisation we contribute to shaping national and global policies and practices that promote the well-being of society’s youngest members.

ChildFund’s programme approach represents a substantial shift in emphasis from addressing the problems of poverty at the individual and household levels to a more collective approach at the child, family, community, area and national levels. ChildFund recognises that the benefits to enrolled children are enhanced when there is more community ownership and participation. This approach also represents a change from addressing symptoms of poverty to addressing its underlying causes.

Brief Programme Overview

ChildFund Ethiopia is working towards improving the care and development of infants and young children, providing quality learning opportunities, and enhancing achievements in basic education. In addition, ChildFund is making concerted efforts to create and strengthen an enabling environment for leadership and livelihood skills for youth. ChildFund Ethiopia’s interventions are being carried out through the life stage approach, and focus on ensuring successful transitions between infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. To bring a lasting change in the lives of children in general and that of deprived, excluded and vulnerable (DEV) children in Ethiopia, ChildFund has formulated the following six strategic objectives, which are aligned to the global strategy and the priorities of the Growth and Transformation Plan 1 (GTP1) of the Government of Ethiopia:

  1. DEV infants and young children have improved cognitive, psychosocial and physical development;
  2. The quality of education and life skills have improved for DEV boys and girls;
  3. DEV youth in urban and rural environments are engaged, safe, have applicable skills and are hopeful for the future;
  4. ChildFund is a partner of choice, building alliances and sustainable partnerships to improve the wellbeing of DEV children;
  5. There is a strong linkage between sponsorship and programme, and the sponsor relations process at all levels is improved; and
  6. The fund resources for DEV children programme is increased and diversified.

The major areas of priorities identified in relation to the three Life Stages are:

Life Stage 1 – 0-5 years old

  • Empowered and responsive caregivers.
  • Safe and caring environment.
  • Quality health care and nutrition for infants, young children, and expectant mothers.
  • Increased access to quality early stimulation.

Life Stage 2 – 6-14 years old

  • Children and adolescents have positive relationships in supportive homes and communities.
  • Children and adolescents have age appropriate literacy, numeracy, and critical life skills to make healthy decisions.
  • Children and adolescents are healthy and actively participate in community life.
  • Educated and confident children

Life Stage 3 – 15+ years old

  • Youth employment.
  • Youth sexual and reproductive health.
  • Youth change agents.


Children learn to socialize while playing with toys together, as part of the Community Caring for Children Programme.

Children learn to socialize while playing with toys together, as part of the Community Caring for Children Programme.


2015 Programme Achievements

Healthy and Secure Infants

Accessible Quality Health Care – Bridging the gap between excluded communities and health services

ChildFund Ethiopia started implementing the Safe Motherhood and Youth Reproductive Health Care Project in April 2014, through two Local Partners: Dugda Child and Family Charitable Organisation and Boset Child and Family Charitable Organisation. In terms of implementation of the planned activities and achieving the expected results, an assessment was conducted in July 2015 and showed that the project is progressing well in both Dugda and Boset.

One of the key highlights of the project is that institutional deliveries (a key intervention in reducing maternal mortality and complications) increased from 20% to 68% in Dugda and from 34% to 68% in Boset – these results are above the project’s overall target. Also, the attendance of postnatal care first visit increased from 22% to 69% in Dugda and from 16% to 65% in Boset.  The number of mothers who attended the antenatal clinic and the number of institutional deliveries increased in all health centres in the Woredas/districts, and as a result the number of maternal deaths decreased.

A mother holds her child in Ethiopia, waiting for the baby to be weighed.

A mother brings her baby to be weighed.

Educated and Confident Children

Performance and Retention of Learners

ChildFund Ethiopia in partnership with Initiative Africa (IA), conducted a learning assessment to examine the contribution of ChildFund Ethiopia’s education programme in improving the performance and retention of learners in the supported target schools. The assessment covered 40 ChildFund Ethiopia supported schools and 17 non-supported schools from 16 Woredas (third-level administrative divisions of Ethiopia) and Sub-Cities from four regions. A total of 2,062 students in Grade 4 and 1,933 students in Grade 7 were included in the assessment. Students were assessed for the most basic foundational skills: literacy acquisition in the early grades; recognizing letters of the alphabet; reading simple words; understanding sentences and paragraphs; and listening with comprehension.

Five areas of assessment were covered to investigate the performance of a sample of Grade 4 students: (1) Phonological Awareness – the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words; (2) Graph Phonemic Awareness – the ability to link sounds with symbols (graphemes – letters or fidels), and then to use this ability to sound out, or decode, words; (3) Fluency – the ability to apply these skills to read with automaticity (quickly and accurately); (4) Vocabulary – recognition/knowledge of words and the meaning of words; and (5) Comprehension – the active process of understanding concepts through text and numeracy skills.

The assessment for Grade 7 included English, Math, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The assessment criteria used were mainly based on (a) comparison with the 2012 fourth National Learning Assessment, (b) comparison of supported and non-supported schools, (c) proficiency level, and (d) the importance of ChildFund Ethiopia’s support from the perspective of school communities.

The major findings are:

  • Disaggregated analysis revealed that the achievements of females are generally greater than that of males. Furthermore, achievements of support schools are greater than that of the nearby non-support schools. These results presumed ChildFund assistance in providing school facilities and direct child focused supports. At the outcome level, improvement in the quality of education is identified as one of the top achievements due to ChildFund interventions.
  • Reading fluency of Grade 4 students is better in supported schools than in non-supported schools as observed in the mean (average) words correctly read per minute of 57.1 and 55.3, respectively. A typical student from a supported school has a better accuracy and speed by about two words per minute as compared to a typical student in a control non-supported school in general.
  • The mean scores of reading comprehension and numeracy skills are 64.2% and 68.2% respectively which is greater than the expected minimum of 50% for the sample students from the sup-ported schools.
  • The ratios of the mean for supported schools over non-supported schools are 1.08 and 1.07 for reading comprehension and numeracy skills, respectively (i.e., Grade 4 students’ mean score in reading and numeracy from the supported schools is consistently greater than that of students in non-supported schools).
  • For Grade 7 students, the composite mean is 48.6%, which is close to the expected minimum mean of 50% for the sample of Grade 7 students.
  • Based on the relative distribution of scores of the sample students, in both components of reading, better proficiency results have been achieved for Grade 4.
  • Proficiency in numeracy skills of Grade 4 students is the least, as 61.4% of the students (62.2% for non- supported and 59.9% for supported) scored below basic. Similar analysis has been done for Grade 7 and the results show better proficiency in support schools as compared to both the 4th National Learning Assessment and the comparison of the non-supported group.

Safe Learning Environment

ChildFund Ethiopia and its partner organisations encourage and support schools to provide a safe learning environment for children. This is demonstrated through child-friendly recreation and game facilities and access to safe water.

Future Hope Integrated Development Organisation recently built a concrete floor in the Africa Andinet Elementary School in Addis Ababa. The structure has created a friendly space where the students can play safely. The students have been quite excited by the newly built concrete floor. In the words of a 14 year old Africa Andinet student: “We learn as we play. Playing makes us happy.”

Children learn the alphabet while participating in the Community Caring for Children Program in Ethiopia.

Children learn the alphabet while participating in the Community Caring for Children Programme

Skilled and Involved Youth

Youth make choice for living a healthy reproductive life

The Buee Youth Friendly Reproductive Health (RH) project was financed by AUSAID through Child-Fund Australia and was implemented in nine Kebeles in the Sodo/Buee district, in partnership with the Sodo/Buee Child and Family Development Association. The project is working to address the RH and HIV related service needs of young people through opening a youth well-being multipurpose centre at Buee Health Centre. The project has provided training for health care providers on young people’s RH needs, appropriate attitude and behaviour towards youth and delivery of youth-friendly services. In addition, the project has provided training for in-school and out-of- school RH and Anti-AIDS clubs, peer educators and conducted regular community conversations around the other strategies used for the prevention and control of HIV and AIDS. The multi-purpose centre provides different services, which include: a library, in-door games, cafeteria and RH and HIV/AIDS services. The multiple services attract youth to the centre, enabling them to engage in recreation activities which in turn reduce their likelihood of getting exposed to undesirable behaviours and risky activities such as substance abuse.

The project contributed significantly to youth to developing healthy behaviours. This includes changing behaviour by building youths’ life skills. The regular peer education sessions conducted among both in-school and out-of-school youths increased their self-confidence and self-esteem. As a result, girls have now started openly discussing sexual related issues. The project also contributed considerably in the reduction of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and gender based violence, including harmful traditional practices. It also created a culture among young couples to seek HIV/AIDS counselling and testing services before marriage.

The entrance to the Yimere Youth Center in Ethiopia

The entrance to the Yimere Youth Centre in Ethiopia.

Helping Youth Help Others

Today Tigest Gezahagn is 20 years old. She was enrolled in ChildFund’s programme when she was 6 years old and remained in the programme for 12 years. She was one of the DEV children who had been living in one of ChildFund’s programme areas with difficult situation. Tigest’s father is a daily labourer while her mother is a housewife. Tigest was enrolled in the programme when she was 6 years old and stayed for 12 years. While she was enrolled, she regularly attended school and successfully completed high school. Later, with the support of the programme, she got the opportunity to train in a vocational school as a hair stylist. Currently she is employed as a hair stylist, earning a monthly salary of 800 birr (equivalent to 38 USD). She says her monthly income is used to support her and her family. Tigest is pleased with her current career and is planning to start her own business in the future.

Child Protection

Child participation became central to advocate Child Protection policy and hence enhance all concerned actors in giving response to harmful traditional practices (HTPs) and child abuse cases.

Child abuse and harmful traditional incidences’ report box has been put in place in Fentale (one of ChildFund Ethiopia’s partners – in the Methara Primary School) where the children report any child abuse cases and comment on their teaching-learning experiences. A committee (comprising of teachers’ and students’ representatives) open the box and collect the feedback which is shared with the concerned body. This is aimed at creating a positive relationship among all concerned actors (e.g., LPs, Government sectors -Justice Offices, Women and Children’s Affairs, schools etc.) when responding to HTPs and child abuse cases in the area. As evidence, five cases have been reported and managed (judgment given) by the Zone Court within a short period of time (mostly in 1 months’ time).

A sign for a child abuse reporting box in Ethiopia.

A sign for a child abuse reporting box in Ethiopia.

Transitioning from Female Gentile Mutilation (FGM) Doer to Change Agent

“Establishing Community Based Child Protection Mechanisms” is an AusAid funded grant project implemented in the Fentale area since July 2013, in partnership with ChildFund Ethiopia. The programme was implemented primarily with the involvement of harmful traditional practitioners (HTPs) or doers, abuse survivors and families with highly vulnerable children. This is aimed at ensuring effective responses to HTPs and child abuse cases in the area. Training, e.g., in business skills and entrepreneurship, regular community conversations, and income generation activities, are some of the major interventions and strategies employed to alleviate the problem and enhance the economic status of the target groups.

Fanaye, 42, was among the FGM practitioners (as a basic source of her income) selected as a beneficiary and provided with training on HTP and child abuse control. This enabled her to become aware of the causes and consequences of HTPs like FGM. Fanaye was also provided with three sheep as an alternative source of income. Consequently, her attitude changed: she refrained from practicing FGM and began to act as a change agent in the project, in prevention and responding to harmful traditional practices and child abuse situations.


By the end of FY15, a total of 2,586 energy saving stoves (798 in Silti and 1,788 in Boset) were produced with active participation of women, and sold in the local market. As a result, this group of women earned 277,260 birr (equivalent to 13,863 USD) in Silti and Boset. The intervention has contributed to the scale-up of economic and social benefits for women, in addition to promoting environmental protection. The stoves contributed to improving the health and safety of women by reducing indoor air pollution and severe health risks from smoke inhalation.

Further, this innovation is really making a difference and playing a critical role in strengthening family income and enabling food security, in a sustainable way. Women are discovering their potential to engage in income generation activities and business start-up. As a result, they are building an alternative livelihood that is contributing to the household income, which in turn is improving their status and bargaining power.


Women Are Change Agents in Their Family and Community

In the Boset and Silti areas where community-based Economic Strengthening (ES) and Natural Re-source Management (NRM) projects are being implemented, seedlings production is being carried out with active participation and high commitment of women. Upon provision of materials and seeds to women groups, they identified nursery sites, cleaned the sites, prepared nursery beds, sowed tree and fruit seeds, and made shading for the beds. During this process, watering, weeding and all other necessary nursery management activities were done in each village.

In addition to tree and fruit seedlings production, women diversified their livelihood in their nursery area through crop production (haricot bean and maize) and vegetable crop production (carrot, cabbage, pepper, potato and beetroot) to increase their income and improve food security and nutritional status.

The project is aimed at re-planting large parts of the destroyed forest in mixed cultures adapted to the local needs; capacity building by eliminating harmful effects of bush burning and tree cutting; reforestation through provision of seedlings; and transferring knowledge on how to do terrace cultivation, planting and management of the new forest.

Community members doing agricultural work

Community members doing agricultural work

Civil Society

Children’s Caregivers Are Empowered Within Supportive Social and Service Structures

Dugda Children’s and Family Charitable organisation, in collaboration with the District Small Scale Micro Enterprise Office, facilitated the formation of a community saving and self-help group (CSSG). Thirty group members were selected based on eligibility criteria, and received planning and management (SPM) training. The primary objective was to dispel the myths and change wrong attitudes about saving, particularly at micro-finance institutions and banks.

Hawi Misoma is the first vibrant savings group established in November 2014 where all 30 members are women coming from poor households. ChildFund’s Local Partner acted in response to the need of the target group and provided them with a start-up capital of birr 15,000 (equivalent to 750 USD) to promote access to loans and foster a savings culture.

Currently, the group has a working place and operates business schemes where consumable items like sugar and oil are distributed to the community at a reasonable and profitable price. They submitted their business plan to the concerned government office and received recognition. Their initial capital has now grown to 30,000 birr (equivalent to 1,500 USD). The group is serving more than 200 people in providing the items at affordable prices, and the group members are self- employed.

Community members in Ethiopia.

Community members in Ethiopia.



The Government of Ethiopia’s 2015 mid-year Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) revealed that 4.5 million people would require relief food assistance between August and December, 2015. The needy population resides in 360 districts in nine regions, including Oromia and SNNPR where ChildFund works.

Siraro, Fentale, Boset, Dugda, Dilla zuria, Wonago and Silti-Aynage are some of the affected districts, located in the Oromia and southern Regions. The majority of the population is dependent on rain fed subsistence agriculture with corn being the staple and cash crop. Haricot beans, Teff, maize, Irish potatoes, and sorghum are also grown.

The districts have been experiencing erratic rainfall and the late start of the Belg and Meher rains, which have affected the food security situation in the area, leading to a serious nutritional concern.

A woman in Ethiopia.

Why Sponsorship is Important

“Letters changed my life!”

Melkam writing a letter


Imagine losing both of your parents as a child. This is Melkam’s story. By the time she reached 4th grade, she had lost both of her parents—a pretty lonely time for her, and she felt as if she had no one to rely on.

Melkam was enrolled in ChildFund’s sponsorship programme in 2003 and was sponsored by Mr. Frederic Burdy who lives 3,416 miles away in France. Her sponsor became part of her family and vice versa. Letter writing made a big difference in the relationship, as well as being an excellent opportunity for Melkam to learn basic letter writing skills and how to express her ideas through writing.

Through exchanging letters with her sponsor, Melkam learned a great deal about her sponsor’s family, his personality as well as his personal interests and attitudes, especially those around work and career. Melkam said: “His words of encouragement and advice are my guide for my academic success. I’m able to learn more English words which greatly impacted my formal education and performance. I also had the opportunity to share my country’s culture, celebrations, historical heritages, current affairs and other things with my sponsor.”

Melkam said that her sponsor is a hard working person and he usually advises her to focus on the big picture. She explained: “without his fatherly encouragement, constant follow up, and support, I wouldn’t be able to succeed in my academic and personal life. I have also got the passion to support others. He teaches me compassion and responsibility. Because of him, I dream to change children’s lives—to help them grow with their needs met, and to become successful in their education. I also had the opportunity to learn the French language while we were corresponding with his family. He has helped me to join the French Language School in Addis, so that I can write in and read French.” Melkam said communicating with her sponsor positively affected her life, and she appreciates the material and financial support.


Melkam talks about her sponsor: “His words of encouragement and advice are my guide for my academic success. He teaches me compassion and responsibility. Because of him, I dream to change children’s lives – to help them grow and become successful.”

“My sponsor—my role model”

Sponsorship communication engagement between children and sponsors enhances children’s skills in reading and writing, and builds self-esteem. In addition, it gives children and sponsors the opportunity to learn new cultures and traditions.

Tayech is a sponsored child who has benefited from this unique nature of sponsorship. She is among the enrolled children in the southern part of Ethiopia. Tayech was born in 2003 in the Gurage Zone Sodo District in a rural village called Ketero, which is located southwest of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Tayech and her sponsor Alicia have shared several letters. In addition to the support she gets from her sponsor, Tayech has used the opportunity to develop her writing skills, reading habit and self-expression, which has helped build her self-esteem. This may hold true for many other children as well.

Pertaining to the difference sponsorship makes, Tayech said, “I used to be very shy and afraid to communicate with others, even for greeting—before I enrolled in the project and started communicating with my sponsor. I believe it is the result of my community’s assumptions towards girls. Now, that’s history. I am confident enough to communicate with any individual in any position and I’m able to persuade others.”

Tayech in an event in the community

Tayech (left), 13, is now an executive committee member in the Child and Youth Forum in her town in the Gurage District of Ethiopia.

Tayech is also performing well in her education. She is ranked number three in her class in terms of performance. Because of her continuous involvement and confidence, she is an executive committee member of the Child and Youth Forum, representing her village. On top of this, she is an Ambassador for her village on sponsorship activities. In recognizing the sponsor’s role through correspondence, Tayech explained: “I have a plan to achieve my vision of taking my dear sponsor as a role model and applying the advice and suggestions she provides through our communication.”

Financial Report
Ethiopia FY15
Sponsorship Expense $5,914,128 62%
Grant Expense $1,247,192 13%
Contribution Expense $410,477 4%
Operating Expense $2,038,585 21%
Total Expenses $9,610,382 100%
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