Map of Ethiopia

Transforming Lives

Letay Gebresilasie on her land

Despite a fast-growing economy, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world. It is prone to weather-related shocks and experiences high levels of food insecurity, particularly among rural populations and smallholder farmers.

Photo of a check dam in Ethiopia

In northern Ethiopia, the rocky, dry Tigray region experiences high food insecurity and frequent shocks. In Mereb Leke wareda, a district within Tigray region, roughy a third of the population of 117,000 lives below the poverty line and produces only about a third of their annual food needs. They get by through market purchases and food received through a social safety net program.

The Productive Safety Net Program, or PSNP, was launched by the Government of Ethiopia in 2005 to help food-insecure families access food 12 months a year and protect community assets through public works projects. USAID is one of nine donors funding this program.

Elfinesh Duko (front left) explains the contents of the family health card to new volunteer community health workers.

Elfinesh Duko, a health extension worker in Ethiopia, realizes she could not be as successful educating her community about health if it weren't for the volunteers that she trains, thanks to crucial volunteertraining knowledge provided by a USAID-supported health program.

Segenet envisions a future full of promise after graduating as an Ambassador's Girls' Scholarship student.

Segenet Wendawork was five years old when her mother died. Her father soon remarried and moved away with his new wife. Segenet remained with her grandmother until she was nine, when her grandmother passed away. She then went to live with her aunt, who kept her home from school to help with chores.

Chaltu Wata and Aster Roba, who are two of the more than 38,000 health extension workers in Ethiopia.

For 20-year-old Chaltu Wata and 22-year old Aster Roba, life is anything but easy. The cousins have spent the past several years in a rural area where they initially faced resistance from the local community for trying to teach them healthier ways.

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Last updated: April 22, 2014

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