Photo: WFP/Michael Tewelde



A lack of rainfall is causing severe water shortages, catastrophic livestock losses, and failed crops throughout the country.


Ethiopia hosts the second largest refugee population on the continent: 928,600 people from South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Kenya.


More than 80% of Ethiopia's 2.9 million internally displaced people cite conflict as the primary reason they left their homes.

The Situation

Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa, and it’s made impressive strides over the last 20 years in reducing poverty and increasing access to basic social services. The number of people living in poverty fell from 48 percent in 1990 to 25 percent in 2014. At the same time, the proportion of undernourished people fell from 75 percent in 1992 to 32 percent in 2015.

However, the distribution of these gains has been uneven, which means not everyone is doing better. Moreover, climate shocks have undermined these gains and led to full-blown humanitarian crises across the country. Since 2003, Ethiopia has faced five devastating droughts that have destroyed crops, killed livestock and forced millions of people to take extreme coping measures. In a dark irony, the overly dry ground also makes the region prone to flash floods, which wreak their own kind of havoc.

The current drought has hit the Somali Region hardest, with an estimated 1.8 million people urgently in need of food assistance.

WFP's Work

WFP has been present in Ethiopia since 1968, using food assistance to empower women, transform areas affected by climate change and keep children in school:

Food for assets

WFP is a major partner in Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), helping 1.6 million people living in rural communities build community assets. PSNP provides food, cash or a combination of both to people in exchange for their participation in building public works like roads, dams, irrigation systems, schools or clinics. This infrastructure increases Ethiopians’ ability to cope with lean seasons and ensures they don’t have to sell their belongings to afford their basic food needs.

school Meals

Through its school meals program, WFP provides hot meals to more than 616,000 Ethiopian schoolchildren, which increases enrollment and attendance and reduced dropout rates in food-insecure areas. In the Oromia region specifically, more than 65,000 children in 105 schools receive meals made with locally-grown food, purchased from cooperative unions supported by WFP’s Purchase for Progress initiative. WFP is also working to hand over the program entirely to the Ethiopian government within the next five years.

Purchase for Progress

Purchase for Progress provides small-scale farmers with the training and tools they need to grow more food and build a business. Most recently, WFP purchasing 44,000 tons of corn from Ethiopia’s small-scale farmers to use in various food programs, which lowers the cost of importing food while boosting the local economy.

Specialized Nutrition

WFP offers specialized nutritional supplements to about 2.2 million of the most vulnerable Ethiopians: pregnant women, nursing mothers, children under the age of five and people living with HIV/AIDS. These supplements include dozens of vitamins and minerals that these populations wouldn’t otherwise receive.

Assistance for refugees

WFP provides food assistance for refugees, cash, nutritional supplements and school meals to an estimated 700,000 registered refugees—primarily from nearby Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan. These programs are structured so that they benefit the host community as well and with the goal of helping Ethiopians become self-sufficient.

Click here to learn more about all of WFP’s programs.