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Ethiopia is vital to the success of U.S. initiatives in the Horn of Africa because of its role in regional security, conflict prevention and food security.
USAID has provided assistance to Ethiopia since its inception in 1961. During the 1960s, USAID provided assistance in agriculture, natural resources, education, health, industry and mining. However, the bulk of that assistance was concentrated on the agricultural sector. Toward the end of the decade, USAID objectives in Ethiopia expanded to include building human capacity.
The 1973-74 drought brought famines that claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. This first severe drought was followed by further episodes in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. In addition to humanitarian assistance and emergency relief, USAID aid came to include drought recovery, loans and food security programs.
Due to the 1974 revolution in Ethiopia and the political instability it created, USAID operated with increasing uncertainty. The 1974 revolution brought in a military-led Marxist regime, known as the Derg. Until the end of the Derg rule in Ethiopia, the United States provided only humanitarian assistance.
In 1992, after the overthrow of the military regime, USAID programs in Ethiopia restarted and included democracy and governance initiatives.
USAID’s close work with the government in assistance programs in primary health and primary education began to function for the first time in 1995. And with the formation of the permanent-elected government, USAID’s assistance in democracy and governance moved away from elections and constitutional support to working with the newly elected National Parliament and strengthening local governments and judicial structures at both national and local levels.
Throughout the 1990s, USAID assistance focused on increasing availability of selected food crops and increased use of primary and preventative health care services. USAID also focused on emergency humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable groups.
Today, USAID’s portfolio in Ethiopia is one of the largest and most complex in Africa. To further the country’s progress, the Ethiopian Government has committed itself to sustainably increasing rural incomes and national food security. U.S. assistance capitalizes on a partnership with the Government to deliver basic public services and combat poverty.
Last updated: May 21, 2015