USAID’s investments in Ethiopia strengthen the resilience of households, communities and systems against environmental, political, socio-economic, conflict, and health shocks. Ethiopians have been experiencing the compounded impact of multiple shocks since 2020: the COVID pandemic, the worst desert locust outbreak in decades, a two-year civil war, and the worst drought in recorded history across the Horn of Africa. Inflation is currently near 35%, increasing the number of households in poverty and the scale of humanitarian need. Over 28 million people in Ethiopia are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, with 33 million people projected to need humanitarian assistance in 2023.

Development gains of the past decades have eroded significantly, but evidence shows that resilience investments mitigate household suffering. Two recent studies, Productive Safety Net Programme IV (PSNP) and the End-line Outcomes Report, show that these investments mitigated the effects of the shocks on client households. The PSNP provides cash and food transfers to eight million people in exchange for improvements in community infrastructure and services for rural communities. Evidence shows that households engaging in at least three different resilience interventions saw a much lower reduction in their food security status than non-participating households during the severe drought in 2016. 


Resilience Food Security Activities: USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance funds Resilience Food Security Activities (RFSAs) that implement the PSNP along with supplementary livelihoods programming. The latter addresses the basic food needs of chronically food-insecure people through predictable, seasonal transfer of food and cash resources, while supporting the creation of assets that generate economic benefit to the communities as a whole. Since October 2016, our RFSA activities have improved the food security of 1.6 million people by helping them to diversify their livelihoods and income sources, to rehabilitate their watersheds, and improve resource management to strengthen community resilience. Feed the Future investments have also helped beneficiary households increase their annual income by 50 percent from 2018–2019.

Resilience in Pastoral Areas: USAID helps pastoralists improve livestock health by facilitating better access to feed and veterinary services and strengthening their links with livestock traders, processors and exporters—a private sector approach to long-term sustainability. We work with rangeland management councils to map resources and help pastoralists plan grazing to support smarter natural resource utilization and mitigate potential conflicts. For those seeking other employment opportunities, we support vocational training and better access to finance, providing pastoralists with the potential to find or create alternative livelihoods. 

Health and Nutrition: The USAID-supported community-based health insurance helps provide coverage to more than 20 million Ethiopians and reduces their out-of-pocket health expenditures due to health financing improvements. Data shows that the combination of health insurance with the PSNP yields increased household savings and participation in alternative livelihoods activities, further enhancing resilience. USAID also supports the expansion of comprehensive community nutrition treatment programs that can rapidly identify and treat moderate and severe malnutrition to address the critical needs of malnourished children, and pregnant and lactating women. Resilience activities further deliver nutrition counseling to women’s and school groups to improve household nutrition behaviors. 

Access to Water: USAID works on increasing the availability of clean drinking water sources, while expanding water use for diversified agricultural production. By rehabilitating non-functioning infrastructure and constructing new systems, we work to provide improved drinking water sources for 200,000 people. Investments in small-scale irrigation increase crop production and improve access to water for livestock. 

Education: USAID promotes resilience among children and youth by providing them with the skills they need to cope with adversity and shocks. Youth training and livelihood investments provide students with soft and hard skills on financial literacy and business development to prepare them for a constantly changing labor market. These skills enable them to prepare for, deal with, and effectively adapt to shocks in life. The majority of program participants have reported an increased sense of self-efficacy, enhanced economic prospects, and increased income.

Female pastoralists in Ethiopia