Irish Aid is the development assistance programme of the Government
of Ireland. Irish Aid concentrates its support to development
in ten countries: eight in Africa and two in Asia. The aid
programme is focused on the poorest people in the world’s poorest
countries – ensuring that families have food to eat and helping
children to survive their first year and go to school. Ireland has
been working in Ethiopia since 1994.
During this time, Ethiopia’s economy has been growing steadily,
with real GDP increasing about 8% in 2010 and projected to
increase at 8.5% in 2011. It has made significant strides in
prioritising resources for tackling poverty and improving human
development outcomes: in 2010 Ethiopia ranked 11th
globally in terms of speed of progress on education, health and
However, Ethiopia is the thirteenth poorest country in the world,
facing challenges such as recurring food insecurity with 44% of the
population consuming less than their daily calorie requirements.
Life expectancy is 56 years, and of a total population of more than
80 million, over thirty million people live below the national
How does Irish Aid support development in Ethiopia?
Irish Aid’s country programme (2008-12) supports the Government of
Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP 2011-15) with the
aim of eradicating hunger and poverty. Ireland concentrates on delivering aid to the
poorest people in the country in two core areas:
social services and accountability; and,
food, nutrition and livelihood security.
Irish Aid works closely with other donors in delivering its aid to
Ethiopia. This has proved to be a very effective and
sustainable form of assistance as it is more coordinated and allows
the Government to better predict financial resources for
development while using government systems to deliver aid.
Irish Aid goal & expected outcomes
Irish Aid allocates
funds in three inter-connected ways:
National programmes which benefit all or multiple districts across
the country (e.g. supporting food security and health services);
Regional programmes, building on long-term Irish Aid support in
Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional
Community projects, working with civil society and research
organisations focusing on innovative approaches (e.g. participatory
forest management; making market systems and credit work for rural
women; and, conducting community conversations for HIV prevention).
Experiences and lessons learned at each level are reflected in
improvements and adjustments at other levels in order to gain
maximum synergy from Irish Aid’s programming.
Food, Nutrition and Livelihood Security
Over 85% of Ethiopians live in rural areas, are reliant on rain-fed
agriculture and are farming increasingly small plots. Any
attempts to reduce poverty in the country must include a strong
focus on rural development and food security.
The food, nutrition and livelihood security pillar aims to empower
households and communities to be able to cope with and recover from
stresses and shocks while keeping them within certain levels of
well-being and food security. Irish Aid’s work explores how
to deliver services and make them more responsive to the needs of
poor farmers, especially women, alongside exploring options on how
they can best diversify into non-agricultural activities.
This pillar encompasses investment in the national Productive
Safety Nets Programme and the new complementary Household Asset
Building Programme. These provide food and cash for 7.5
million chronically food insecure households in exchange for public
works (like soil and water conservation activities) as well as
providing credit and training to improve their incomes.
Furthermore, Irish Aid supports food security initiatives in Tigray
Region, and partners with a select number of research institutes
and civil society organisations such as SoS Sahel and Farm Africa
that work on innovative solutions to food security, access to
credit and women’s empowerment. This work is complemented by
projects such as a new initiative with the International Potato
Centre to promote potato and sweet potato as alternative, highly
nutritious crops which are more resilient to climate change than
traditional cereal crops.
Social Services and Accountability
The most vulnerable sections of society cannot hope to escape
extreme poverty unless they can benefit from health, education and
other public services. Irish Aid is therefore supporting the
provision of and access to better quality public services.
Irish Aid is also supporting communities to become aware of their
entitlements to such services. In this way, the programme
aims to tackle the barriers and obstacles that face poor people
when accessing services and to increase the utilisation of health,
education, and HIV and AIDS services by the poorest.
Through its investment in the Protection of Basic Services (PBS)
programme, Irish Aid, together with other donors and the Government
of Ethiopia, is supporting the delivery of social services in the
areas of health, education, water and sanitation, agriculture and
rural roads at a local level, while simultaneously promoting
accountability and good governance. Irish Aid also provides
specific support to the health sector, both nationally and in
Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, to build the
capacity of critical front line health workers and improve maternal
and child health services. To complement these investments
Irish Aid also supports a number of NGOs working on social services
The two pillars of Irish Aid’s development programme link through a
shared element of poverty monitoring. Irish Aid is increasingly
focused on improving the timeliness and reliability of its own
data, as well as improving the quality and gender focus of national
data through the Ethiopian National Central Statistics Agency and
the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Additionally, Irish Aid is
supporting innovative work with Tigray Region on developing a
‘Complementary Poverty Monitoring Approach’, which focuses on
community and household information to enrich the traditional