Food security for 12 million people has improved after Norway provided long-term support for forestry and agricultural management in the Bale Eco-region. In addition, work to prevent the circumcision of women and children has shown good results.

Facts about Ethiopia

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Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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The flag for Ethiopia

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Norway has a long history in Ethiopia, through politics, bilateral aid and missionary work. Strong ties were formed between Emperor Haile Selassie and the Norwegian royal family in London during 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, it was not until 1995 that Norway signed a bilateral cooperation agreement with Ethiopia.

The government coalition party, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) still has absolute power, and this has been the case for many years. The opposition is characterised as weak and divided. They have few economic resources with which to engage in political activity. They also encounter many obstacles from the governing party in their attempts to mobilise.

The debate on human rights in 2013 was marked by major differences. On the one hand, Ethiopia has made great strides with regard to economic and social rights. Ethiopia has made great progress in recent years, and is one of few countries on the continent that have a possibility of meeting the UN millennium development goals for combating extreme poverty.

At the same time, there is a strong consensus among Western donor countries that political and civil rights are seriously under pressure. Human rights organisations find that the conditions for both freedom of expression and freedom of association have become more difficult.

Of particular cause for concern is the authorities' implementation of anti-terror legislation. Both the opposition and foreign human rights organisations claim that arrests based on this Act are made to gag the press and the opposition.

The economy is marked by significant investments, for instance in the textile and leather industry, cement production and commercial agriculture. According to the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance, growth has been over 11 per cent over the last eight years.

An important change in the direction of more market liberalism took place at the end of 2013. Ethiopia then opened up to private investment in the power sector. Part of the reason for this is the challenge associated with financing major power projects The new Act makes it possible for private actors to invest in the generation, distribution and sale of electricity. This opens up exciting opportunities for Norway, especially in light of the long-term cooperation between Norwegian and Ethiopian actors.

Ethiopia has held the Chairmanship of the African Union (AU) for the past year, but the baton was passed to Mauritania at the summit meeting in January 2014.

These are Norway's priorities:

  • Climate, the environment, food security and sustainable development
  • Gender equality and women's and children's rights
  • Economic development and fair distribution
  • Good governance and human rights
  • Contributing to emissions from forests in developing countries being included in a new international climate treaty
  • Contributing to cost-effective measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Contributing to safeguarding natural forests to ensure the capacity of the forest to bind carbon

Green growth for economic and social development

Ethiopia is a pioneering country in global climate work, both nationally and internationally. In 2011, the country launched a green development plan based on climate-robust green growth. Norway and the UK are among the countries that have committed to substantial, long-term investments. This climate partnership has been strengthened within the pillars of forest/REDD+, clean energy/Energi+ and climate-smart agriculture.

The country's authorities share Norway's ambitions to establish a new international climate treaty in which all countries participate, including developing countries. Ethiopia will be able to "deliver" results quite quickly in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions. This takes place through green investments in sectors with high growth rates.

The forest programme and REDD+ in Ethiopia focus primarily on the causes of deforestation and degradation of biological mass and diversity across the agriculture, forest and energy sectors.

In less than two years, REDD+ cooperation has, for example, established an independent Ministry of Environment and Forests, which reinforces the national administrative capacity and houses the national REDD Secretariat. The authorities have prepared a roadmap for measurement, reporting and verification of emissions from the forest sector, which will make it possible to generate results-based income.

In the initial phase (2013-2014) major emphasis will be placed on building up institutional capacity, both nationally and regionally. The establishment of the bilateral Joint Consultation Group in January 2014 will be an important arena for the discussion of priorities and evaluation of progress.

Many of the result targets in phase I from the partnership agreement for REDD+ have been achieved. A payment is therefore planned during the first half of 2014. This will preferably take place through the national climate fund in Ethiopia.

In 2013, Norway signed an agreement with the World Bank's Bio Carbon Fund on financing the development and design of a major REDD+ pilot project in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The pilot will have an agricultural approach and focus on the drivers of deforestation, looking at the connections and synergies between the forest, agriculture and energy sectors. The pilot area covers 60 per cent of Ethiopia's remaining highland forest, and experiences gained here will provide both Ethiopia and other African countries with valuable experience and knowledge of forest preservation in integrated nature and production systems. Financing for implementation of the pilot is also planned through BioCF.

Other results:

  • The embassy's long-term support for forestry and agricultural management in the Bale Eco-region, in addition to reducing deforestation, has contributed to increased food security and enhanced food production systems for over 12 million people.
  • Extensive research and capacity building to increase and improve food security is well under way. Support for and cooperation with the agricultural universities has been important.

 Despite the fact that eight out of ten Ethiopians are farmers, they do not produce enough for their own use. Norwegian University of Life Sciences has been working together with the universities of Hawassa and Mekelle in Ethiopia. The goal is to gain knowledge about, and make the cultivation methods more effective.

Energy and climate

The development of renewable energy is a key, high priority focus area for Ethiopia. In 2013, the proposal for the main plan for the power sector was presented. It calls for extensive development of hydropower, wind power and geothermal power production. The investment requirements are estimated at approximately USD 50 billion for the coming 25 years.

Cooperation between Ethiopia and Norway took a new step in 2013 through the start-up of the first phase of Energy+ Cooperation. The main objective is to facilitate the start-up of results-based support during the 2015-2016 period.

During this phase, support will be given after emission reductions and increased access to modern energy have been documented by independent investigators. Norwegian contributions will then be transferred to Ethiopia's national climate fund, which finances initiatives that are priorities in Ethiopia's green development strategy.

Other results:

  • In 2013, 2.4 million cooking ovens that use less wood and charcoal were distributed through the national cooking oven programme that Energy+ contributes to. This leads to both a better indoor climate and less pressure on forest resources.
  • The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) receives NOK 46 million in support, which among other things is used for capacity building related to the implementation of Ethiopia's green development strategy. At the end of 2013, nine advisors were in place in central ministries, including the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy and Water. GGGI's advisors assist in separating the overall green development strategy into specific plans.
  • In cooperation with the DFID in the UK, Norway supports an investment programme to promote the quick start-up of climate-smart initiatives. An important initiative is the establishment of a centre to support climate-smart entrepreneurship, in cooperation with IFC's infoDev and the University of Addis Ababa. The first group of just over 20 entrepreneurs has been selected. They received support based on an open application round.

Democracy and human rights

Norway's plan of action for women's rights and equality in development cooperation ended in 2013. Ethiopia is a pioneering country, also for Norway's international plan of action to prevent female genital mutilation.

In the battle against female genital mutilation, Norwegian Church Aid and Save the Children are Norway's most important partners. The projects have contributed to a clear decline in the number of girls who are subjected to genital mutilation. Some results based on the most recent review:

  • Nearly 3500 girls who have not been circumcised have been registered in the Afar and Southern regions.
  • Approximately 5100 newborn girls were given protection by the local community to prevent their circumcision.
  • 250 girls were rescued from circumcision.
  • Nearly 5000 men in the Somali region signed binding letters stating that they will marry girls who have not been circumcised.
  • Eleven evangelical schools, eleven clan leaders and two Ethiopian Orthodox educational centres made female genital mutilation part of the school materials to ensure the involvement of religious institutions.
  • A total of 663 women who previously worked as circumcisers actively participated as change agents in anti-circumcision programmes.

 About 140 million women and girls around the world has experienced gender mutilation. Every year, three million girls are at risk. Norway has, since 2003, contributed 369 million NOK to fight this extremely harmful practice. Watch and learn more about the work in Ethiopia.

The embassy has continued to support UNICEF and the UN Population Fund's (UNFPA's) programme for young people's reproductive rights. In 2013, for example, more than 63,000 young people (56 per cent men, 44 per cent women) received training in sexual and reproductive health and HIV-related services.

The embassy supports civil society through a joint fund together with Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, UK and Sweden. The fund focuses in particular on reaching civil society organisations in the districts and has prioritised support for marginalised groups. More than 100 civil society organisations received support for various forms of social work in areas that are difficult to reach by anyone other than local organisations.

In 2013, Norway has continued its three-year agreement with the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Addis Ababa to promote access to free legal aid for impoverished people, with a special focus on women. The goal is also to strengthen the centre's academic capacity.

Some results in 2013:

  • The cooperation agreement with the universities in Ambo, Adama and Hawassa was signed. This entails that the project can operate legal aid centres by using law students and facilities at the universities.
  • Free legal aid was given to 3249 persons. Of these persons, 42 per cent were women.

Civil society

Save the Children, Norwegian Church Aid, Development Fund, Norwegian People's Aid, Digni, Right to Play, ADRA, Dry Land Coordination Group (DCG), FOKUS and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) all receive support from Norad for projects in Ethiopia. In 2014, grants from Norad to civil society organisations in Ethiopia totalled just over NOK 79 million. Save the Children cooperates with the authorities with regard to children's access to health services and education, for example. Norwegian Church Aid and Digni's local partners cooperate with religious leaders and have achieved good results in the area of reproductive health, including the prevention of HIV infection and female genital mutilation.

Aid effectiveness

The embassy cooperates with the European Union on a joint overarching strategy for Ethiopia, which is to ensure better adaptation to the authorities' development plans and better harmonisation and division of work among donors – as well as a greater focus on results.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 16.02.2015