Poverty in Ethiopia

To witness the extreme poverty in Ethiopia is an unforgettable experience. In some areas a typical residence is comprised of some cardboard, some tin, and some rope, intermingled with sticks, mud, and animal dung—not a house by North American standards or even by Ethiopian standards. It is one room dug into the dirt, without windows or ventilation for the smoke from cooking. Cleanliness and hygiene are impossible in such a situation.

Poverty means that your bank account is a two-week supply of grain, the only thing separating you and your family from starvation. There is no guarantee, especially during times of drought, of replenishing it once it is gone.

Miriam-Webster defines poverty as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.”

Its effects are profound. On an individual level, poverty leads to poor health and even death, the inability to access educational and employment opportunities, child labour, and hopelessness. On a societal level, poverty causes tension, the inability to implement beneficial infrastructure projects, and difficulty strengthening the economy.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Ethiopia has an estimated 35 million people who are subjected to abject poverty. This is roughly around 44 percent of the current population. Over 12 million of these people are severely affected by food insecurity. The majority live in rural areas, and their major means of survival is their involvement in agriculture. It should also be noted that around 80 percent of Ethiopians depend on agriculture as their primary means of livelihood. The severe arid conditions caused by lack of rainfall, as well as civil disputes, tends to increase the number of people who are affected by poverty.

Increased rates of poverty, food insecurity, and water scarcity are just few of the many negative effects of climate change to pastoralists and small-scale farmers in Ethiopia. While it is true that Ethiopia is no longer a stranger to climate variability, considering the fact that it has suffered from droughts that caused famine and hunger in the past, there is still a great chance that the climate changes will make the lives of poor Ethiopians even more difficult.

One of the major factors contributing to rural poverty is the lack of rainfall. Frequent droughts cause a lot of poor farming families to live without food crops, leading to hunger and periodic famine. Most of the people in Ethiopia lack coping mechanisms designed to help them face famines induced by drought. They also have inadequate knowledge regarding contingency planning. This further prevents them from getting out of the desperate cycle of poverty.

44 percent of Ethiopians are impoverished. Over 12 million are severely affected by food insecurity.

Another cause of the high poverty rate in the country is illiteracy. Note that only a few have access to sound education. Millions of Ethiopians are unable to access quality education. Some even prefer to work rather than study because their priority is their own survival and their family’s survival.  

The AIDS/HIV pandemic is another factor that drives poor people deeper into poverty. It deprives a lot of families of young adults, who are supposed to be their most productive members. The infection is more widespread in rural areas, further dragging the people in those regions into the cycle of poverty.

We are working to help the poorest of the poor in Ethiopia. Read more about how we help.


Get the
All Net Proceeds
to Charity

Subscribe to our