Dialogue supported by Norway has resulted in that religious leaders are publicly denouncing female genital mutilation. They are reaching millions of people to communicate how harmful genital mutilations are.

Bilateral assistance to Ethiopia 2011: million kroner

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Bilateral assistance to Ethiopia 2011: million kroner

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Bilateral assistance to Ethiopia 2006 - 2011: million kroner

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 Norway has a long history in Ethiopia, both through politics, bilateral assistance and missionary work. Bilateral relations were established in 1948. The relations were maintained alternately through the Norwegian embassies in Cairo and Nairobi till an embassy was established in Addis Ababa in 1991.

Strong relations were formed between the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie and the Norwegian royal family in London under the Second World War. This led to mutual state visits; the emperor visited Norway in 1958 and King Olav visited Ethiopia in 1966. Despite long traditions, also through the Norwegian missionary organisations, it was first in 1995 that Norway entered a bilateral cooperation agreement with Ethiopia.

Despite a concerning human rights situation the country has made enormous progress in recent years. In 20 years children’s access to schooling has increased from 32 per cent to 96.4 per cent. The country has also come far in reaching UN’s millennium goals for combating HIV, AIDS and malaria and for reducing the extreme poverty. Ethiopia is among the countries with prospects for reaching the goal of reducing poverty by half.  “An African success story”, the former minister of international development minister Erik Solheim said about Norway’s partner through the years.

The Ethiopian government has a goal of making the country self-sufficient with food, reducing poverty by half and becoming a middle income country in 10-15 years. Ethiopia’s borders have historically been characterised by local and regional conflicts.  Ethiopia is the most important regional player in regard to finding solutions to unresolved issues. UN’s peace operation in the disputed border area of Abyei in Sudan commenced in 2011 and consists solely of Ethiopian forces.

These are the Norwegian priorities in Ethiopia:

  • climate, environment and sustainable development
  • gender equality and women  and children’s rights
  • economic development with emphasis on energy
  • good governance and human rights
  • public welfare services


A climate partnership between Ethiopia, Norway and Great Britain was announced in December 2011 under the climate negotiations in Durban. Norway made a commitment to provide up to 60 million dollars annually in assistance to collaboration on REDD+, Energy+ and climate smart agriculture 

Forest plantation and terracing along the ridges are steps for improving food security for the poor in the province of Tigray. The development fund, in collaboration with Relief Society of Tigray, and women’s organisation Woman Association of Tigray (WAT), started the programme with a price tag of 26.7 million NOK.


  • Before the programme started none of the inhabitants of the area had access to artificial irrigation. Vast areas were without vegetation. 46 88000 m2 land which was previously uncultivated has become cultivable and is now being used both for food production and for growing fodder for the cattle.
  • 560 families have access to artificial irrigation and can grow three crops per year
  • Families are now supporting themselves without food distributions. They can sell fruit and spices in the market and send their children to school

”Energizing Development” has achieved good results in Ethiopia. The project provides isolated villages access to modern sources of energy by use of, for instance, small hydro electricity plants

  • In 2011 solar cell panels were installed at more than 100 public health centres and municipal centres
  • 600 private small entrepreneurs have given more than 450 000 persons access to effective wood-burning stoves

The farmers must adapt their production to the climate change. Assistance has been given to UN’s work for combating desert expansion in Afar and Somali regions and for sustainable agriculture in Tigray region. Several types of vegetables and fruits are grown here now that are sold in the local market as a result of the projects.

Beekeeping is helping to create new workplaces for people who do not have access to cultivable land. This is one way of working that reduces strain on natural resources. 230 women who have received training and start-up capital through the programme, were asked about the benefits.  77 per cent reported improvement in living conditions. Cooperation between universities in Hawassa, Mekelle and UMB contributes to greater knowledge and solutions as regards food security and adaptation to climate change. 20 doctorate students are now studying in Norwegian universities.

Peace and reconciliation

Religion is important in Ethiopia, a country where Christians and Muslims are coexisting peacefully. Through the Norwegian Church Aid Norway has supported establishment of an inter-religious dialogue forum where representatives of all Ethiopian religious communities meet, with the purpose of having a contact point for resolving any conflicts as well as for coordinating efforts against genital mutilation.

Gender equality and children’s rights

Action plan for women’s rights and gender equality in development cooperation will continue till 2013.  Ethiopia is a pioneer country, also for Norway’s international plan against genital mutilation. In the fight against genital mutilation the Norwegian Church Aid and Save the Children are important partners for Norway. The projects have contributed to a clear reduction in the number of girls that are subjected to genital mutilation.


  • the Ethiopian Orthodox Church declared in 2011 zero tolerance against female genital mutilation
  • 72 religious leaders from Somali, Afar and Harari regions and 900 religious leaders from Addis Abeba and Amhara have agreed to distance themselves completely from genital mutilation.
  • Yallo district in Afar region was able to demonstrate a reduction in genital mutilation from 46 per cent to zero in the course of 2011. 

Norway supports UNICEF and UN’s population fund programme for reproductive rights of the youth. This means access to contraception, family planning, safe births and pregnancy terminations as well as work against genital mutilation and sexualised violence.

  • 165 852 youths gained direct access to counselling services for HIV and AIDS, information and awareness about HIV and AIDS and sexual and reproductive health in 2011.
  • Around 3440 youths received support for income generating activities; 67 per cent of these were men and 33 per cent were women.

Good governance

Norway has a long-term cooperation with United Nations Development Programme through Democratic Institutions Program. Jointly with nine other donors Norway is supporting capacity building and institution building in seven central state institutions. The Auditor General, Anti-corruption Commission and Human Rights commission are among these institutions.

The Anti-corruption Commission has completed investigations and court cases against corruption suspects and continued registration and public reporting of income and property affairs of around 50 000 politicians and civil servants.

Aid effectiveness

The Norwegian embassy reports annually to the Ethiopian finance department about annual promises and future aid volume while it reports quarterly about the actual payouts. Since 2011 the Ethiopian finance department, in collaboration with the donors, has used a statistics database that gives information about annual promises, future aid volume and which sectors and programmes are supported by the individual donors.