where we work


has had a long relationship working with Ethiopians to advance peace and health. Activities include assisting the nation with disease eradication and control programs, increasing food production, mediating conflict, observing elections, and promoting human rights.

Waging Peace

The Center's peace programs have worked with all factions of Ethiopian civil society and government to increase dialogue between disputing groups, mediate conflict, observe elections, prevent human rights violations, and build institutional protections for human rights in the nation.

+Mediating Conflict

In 1988, former U.S. President Jimmy visited Addis Ababa to consult with Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. On a subsequent visit to the region, President met with Eritrean and Tigrayan revolutionary leaders, who had been engaged in a 27-year war with the Ethiopian government. At the invitation of both sides, President presided over peace negotiations between the Ethiopian government and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front at for 12 days in September 1989. These mediations marked the first time the parties agreed to negotiate without preconditions in the presence of a third-party mediator.

The negotiations were reconvened in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 1989. Despite having made some progress, the parties continued to fight. In May 1991, Tigrayan forces reached Ethiopia's capital city of Addis Ababa, forcing Mengistu to flee the country. Eritrea became an independent nation in May 1993.

A 1991 conference of the leading forces in Ethiopia set the course toward full democracy under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Subsequently, all but President Meles' Tigrayan groups withdrew from the transition government. Although Ethiopia was well on its way to achieving democratic practices, elections in 1992 were flawed. Eager to help the country deepen its democratic practices, President invited all sides to in February 1994 for a dialogue.

+Intervening for Human Rights

In August 1988, President interceded on behalf of 30 Ethiopian Jews and 220 Somali prisoners of war in his first meeting with Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. They were released a month later.

In 1992, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi requested President 's help to incorporate strong mechanisms for the protection of human rights into the structure of the Ethiopian state. With these goals in mind, the Center worked with various Ethiopian government ministries in 1992 and 1993 to prevent human rights violations. Training and assistance were provided to conduct fair trials of officials of the former regime, design a human rights training program for law enforcement personnel, and increase awareness within the judicial system of human rights issues.

+Election Monitoring

2005 Elections

observed the country's third national elections on May 15, 2005. While the Center's assessment determined that the majority of the constituency results were credible and reflected competitive conditions, a considerable number of constituency results were problematic. After the election, Center observers were witness to and received reports of human rights violations occurring in and outside Addis Ababa, and on June 9, 2005, the Center issued a statement condemning the postelection violence.

View Center election reports for Ethiopia >

+Strengthening Civil Society

After the 2005 elections, the Center's Democracy Program supported the efforts of civic leaders in Ethiopia to convene discussions about the most pressing and contentious political and social issues facing the country. The agenda included constructive dialogue on issues such as media policy, ethnicity, and economic development. helped  facilitate public discussions based on well-researched facts, in a forum with respect for opposing viewpoints.

Fighting Disease

A partnership between , the Ethiopia Federal Ministry of Education, the Ethiopia Federal Ministry of Health, and seven universities and colleges, known as the Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative, improved the health of Ethiopians by enhancing the quality of training and education that health workers receive. That initiative has ended, but remains deeply involved in building health and hope in Ethiopia through work to combat Guinea worm disease, river blindness, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria, which cause tremendous suffering in the nation.

+Eliminating Guinea Worm Disease

Current status: Endemic
Indigenous human cases reported in 2023: 0*
Animal infections reported in 2023: 1*

Current Guinea worm case reports >

With assistance from , the Ethiopia Ministry of Health established its National Dracunculiasis Eradication Program in 1991, launching a village-by-village nationwide search, which found 1,120 cases in 99 villages in two regions of the southwest part of the country. Transmission of Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis) in the Southern Nationalities, Nations, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) was interrupted in 2001 but continued in the Gambella Region. In 2007, Gambella reported zero indigenous cases for 12 consecutive months.

In 2008, Gambella reported 41 indigenous cases, and by 2014, only three cases of dracunculiasis were reported.

An outbreak of 15 cases in 2017 occurred in migrant workers from Oromia region on an industrial farm in Abobo district of adjacent Gambella Region, where in 2016 individuals drank unfiltered water from a contaminated pond. (It takes 12-14 months for the worm to emerge after contaminated water has been consumed.) Intensive interventions, including treatment of the pond with ABATE, were undertaken in immediate response. Ethiopian health authorities redoubled their surveillance and response efforts.

The strategy for interrupting transmission of Guinea worm disease in Ethiopia relies on active surveillance systems in high-risk areas to detect all cases and contain them by preventing patients from contaminating water sources. Approaches for changing behavior and mobilizing communities to protect their drinking water include: distribution of nylon filters to strain out the water fleas that host the Guinea worm larvae; monthly treatment of stagnant sources of drinking water with ABATE®; voluntary isolation of patients in case containment centers; and advocacy with water organizations for provision of safe sources of drinking water. Community-elected village volunteers are trained by the program to carry out surveillance and interventions.

As part of the effort to provide safe water to communities with Guinea worm disease, -supported program and a partnering nongovernmental organization, Norwegian Church Aid, have constructed hand-dug wells in the Gambella Region. The Ethiopian Federal Water Resources Development offices also have provided training on the use of Vonder drilling rigs to develop a village-level capacity to construct hand-drilled wells.

A reward system was established in all endemic areas to improve the detection and reporting of cases. A monetary reward induces people with cases to report early and, for the duration of their illness, to remain at a health facility, where they receive three meals a day, a place to sleep, and free medical care until all worms are removed.

Major constraints on program efforts include: maintaining surveillance throughout Guinea worm-free districts that are periodically inaccessible due to insecurity and heavy rains during the peak transmission season; and migration of people from South Sudan to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia provisionally reported zero human cases in 2023 compared to one caes in 2022.

*All figures for humans and animals are provisional until officially confirmed, typically in March each year.

+Eliminating River Blindness

For additional information and updates, read the latest issue of Eye of the Eagle.

Onchocerciasis, or river blindness, was first reported in southwestern regions of Ethiopia in 1939, while the northwestern part of the country was recognized to be endemic in the 1970s. In 2000, was invited to help implement Ethiopia's national River Blindness Program. The Center continues to assist the national program, in partnership with Lions Clubs International Foundation, Lions of Ethiopia, the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, and other international nongovernmental and private organizations. In 2012, the Ethiopia Federal Ministry of Health, with encouragement from , established a goal of interrupting transmission of the disease nationwide by 2020. A key component of this drive was increasing the frequency of Mectizan® (ivermectin, donated by Merck & Co., Inc.) treatment from annual to twice per year (semiannual) treatment. As part of this plan, in 2012, and Lions Clubs International Foundation assisted the Ethiopian government in providing almost 4.9 million treatments, a 50 percent expansion of treatments from the previous year.

The Ethiopian Onchocerciasis Elimination Expert Advisory Committee was inaugurated in October 2014 with the support of and the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Representatives from Ethiopia’s federal and regional ministries of health, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Merck also attended the first annual meeting. Establishing this advisory committee was a monumental step toward nationwide elimination of river blindness in Ethiopia.

In 2015, assisted the Ethiopian government in providing over 15 million treatments in one year, most of which were semiannual, overtaking the Center’s Nigeria office as the largest Mectizan program of . Treatments are provided in Amhara, Oromia, Beneshangul Gumuz, Gambella, and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regions. Transmission was interrupted in the Metema subfocus in Amhara in 2018, though treatments continue in the Wudi Gemzu “hot spot” within that focus.

in 2015 helped to establish an onchocerciasis molecular diagnostic laboratory at the Ethiopia Public Health Institute, the technical arm of the Federal Ministry of Health. The University of South Florida provides reference laboratory oversight for the state-of-the-art laboratory.

The Ethiopia program is a leader in Africa. Ethiopia and its neighbor Sudan achieved the after both countries broke transmission of river blindness in an area along Ethiopia’s northwestern border. Ethiopia has one of the most extensive entomological surveillance efforts in the world, and an extensive network of volunteers dedicated to helping their communities lead healthier lives. The program continues to grow and now reaches more than 14 million people.

+Controlling Trachoma

Trachoma, caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, is easily transmitted from person to person through normal physical contact, shared household linens, and flies that carry the bacteria from ocular and nasal discharge. Repeated infections can lead to inner eyelid scarring over time, causing the eyelashes to turn inward and scrape the cornea, a painful condition called trachomatous trichiasis (TT). If left untreated, this painful stage of the disease can lead to permanent sight loss.

Trachoma affects an estimated 67.8 million people in Ethiopia, making Ethiopia the most severely affected country worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2022, Ethiopia accounted for 52% of the total global population at risk for trachoma. Within Ethiopia is the most trachoma-affected region in the world, the Amhara region. Of the 67.8 million people at risk in Ethiopia, more than 22 million (32%) live in the Amhara region.

Since 2001, in collaboration with the Amhara Regional Health Bureau (ARHB), the Ethiopia Ministry of Health (MOH), and the Amhara Public Health Institute, ’s Trachoma Control Program has assisted the Amhara region to implement the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy: Surgery to reverse in-turned lashes caused by TT; Antibiotics to treat infection and reduce transmission; Facial cleanliness to prevent bacteria from spreading; and Environmental improvement to improve access to clean water and basic sanitation to reduce the fly population.

From 2001 through 2023, assisted the ARHB in providing 801,775 persons with corrective eyelid TT surgeries – thus stopping the progression to blindness. From 2016 through 2022, a total of 301,520 TT surgeries were completed in Amhara, making up 46% of the total TT surgeries completed in the entire country. In 2022, 73% of the total TT surgeries completed worldwide were performed in Ethiopia. In collaboration with the ARHB, the Center supported 24% of those TT surgeries in the Amhara region.

, in partnership with the MOH and the ARHB, distributes antibiotics for trachoma control. Adults and children older than six months are treated with Zithromax® (azithromycin, donated by Pfizer Inc); those ineligible for Zithromax receive tetracycline eye ointment (TEO). From 2001 to 2023, supported the distribution of more than 209 million doses of Zithromax and more than 5.6 million doses of TEO in Amhara. In 2022 alone, 25% of the total trachoma antibiotics distributed worldwide were distributed with assistance from in the Amhara region.

In 2007, the entire population of the Amhara region required antibiotic treatment annually because of the severity of the disease burden. Thanks to the program’s efforts, as of December 2023, 58 districts, or 37% of all health districts in the region, have reached the elimination threshold for trachomatous inflammation-follicular (TF), the standard to assess disease prevalence. This means an estimated 6.6 million people no longer require mass antibiotic distribution to combat trachoma.

and the ARHB work closely to deliver health and hygiene education to communities and schools to raise awareness about improving facial cleanliness and the construction and use of latrines. The School Trachoma Program (STP) curriculum covers the SAFE strategy with an emphasis on water, sanitation, facial cleanliness, and environmental improvement, to encourage students to practice key trachoma prevention behaviors. An estimated 20,000 teachers are trained on the STP curriculum every two to three years to cover the needs of the more than 8,900 primary schools. Trained teachers and school principals also work with students to establish school trachoma clubs, which present skits about trachoma prevention and educate students and community members about the disease. The trachoma curriculum was incorporated into the standard regional curriculum for all schools in 2023 and a new curriculum for preschool children was developed to be scaled to reach the youngest students, who carry the greatest burden of trachoma.

+Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis

's activities in Ethiopia have expanded to address multiple diseases simultaneously. For example, helped the Ethiopia Ministry of Health launch a lymphatic filariasis elimination program in the Gambella region in 2009, helping Ethiopia's Federal of Ministry of Health to fight lymphatic filariasis through integration of activities with malaria and river blindness, saving time and limited resources.

This initial effort grew into 's Lymphatic Filariasis Elimination Program in Ethiopia, emerging from the Center's more than 20-year history promoting health in partnership with local communities. Now in Amhara, Gambella, Beneshangul Gumuz, and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples regions, the program supports treatment and health education for nearly 2 million people.

Lymphatic filariasis is a mosquito-borne illness and a leading cause of permanent and long-term disability worldwide. The disease can be prevented through health education, the adoption of long-lasting insecticidal bed nets, and community distribution of the medicines Mectizan® (donated by Merck & Co., Inc.) and albendazole.

Treatment for LF has expanded dramatically from 77,442 treatments in 2012 to a peak of more than 2.3 million in 2016. The number of treatments has declined since then as districts achieve the impact needed to stop treatment. Communities – whether still seeing new LF infections or not – continue to receive health education and guidance on preventing mosquito bites.

+Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative

From 1997-2010, at the invitation of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, -supported Ethiopian Public Health Training Initiative (EPHTI) worked successfully in partnership with seven Ethiopian universities and the Ethiopia Ministries of Health and Education to address the dangerous void in rural health services for 75 million Ethiopians.

When the program began, Ethiopia had one of the lowest life expectancies in the world and one of the highest infant mortality rates. This critical situation was compounded by the emigration of Ethiopia's skilled health professionals to other countries.

Today, more than 31,000 trained health service professionals serve 90 percent of the Ethiopian population.

International experts worked side by side with Ethiopian teaching staff at the University of Gondar, Defense College of Health Sciences, Haramaya University, Hawassa University, Mekelle University, Jimma University, and Addis Ababa University.

More than 2,500 faculty were trained through 565 workshops and seminars. In addition, 228 learning materials were developed, addressing life-threatening diseases and longer-term health needs, such as: HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, nutrition, maternal and child health, mental health, reproductive health, and water and sanitation.

EPHTI enhanced classroom and learning environments for health sciences students by providing more than 7,000 textbooks, subscriptions to professional journals, computers, anatomical models, and supplies such as stethoscopes and gloves. A second component of the program trained health center staff and community health workers, including traditional birth attendants and community health agents.

In 2007, the Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative Replication Conference provided the opportunity for ministries of health, education, and science and technology from 10 African governments to learn how EPHTI's model could help address the severe shortages of health care professionals in their own nations. Following the conference, several countries expressed interest in establishing similar programs.

In late 2010, as part of the original agreement between the Ethiopian government and , -assisted EPHTI was officially transferred to Ethiopia's Federal Ministries of Health and Education.

+Controlling Malaria

At the request of the Federal Ministry of Health, expanded its health assistance in Ethiopia to include a malaria control initiative in 2007. The initial focus was supporting the Federal Ministry of Health in its goal of protecting the entire population at risk for malaria through free distribution of long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets.

From December 2006 to July 2007, purchased 3 million nets — the balance of nets needed by the national program — and helped to coordinate their delivery and distribution in more than 100 districts. These Center-assisted efforts help protect 36 percent of the at-risk population and represent an essential step toward malaria elimination within Ethiopia.

The Center has focused its malaria activities in Amhara region, where malaria and trachoma efforts are combined into semiannual weeklong MalTra (malaria-trachoma) campaigns that treat millions for trachoma and test and treat for malaria. Between 2008 and 2012, 236,672 people were treated for malaria.

In addition, the Center has managed two large representative household surveys, which show a threefold increase in the proportion of households owning at least one net in malaria endemic areas and a fourfold increase in the average number of nets per household. Between 2007 and 2012, the program supported the distribution of nearly 6 million long-lasting insecticidal bed nets.

The Center also has been a strategic partner for Ethiopia's nationwide Malaria Indicator Surveys (MIS) that assess the progress made in prevention and control. The 2011 MIS surveyed nearly 50,000 people, making it the largest MIS carried out in any African country. The results indicated that gains in key malaria interventions following the scale-up of activities in 2006-2007 have been sustained: in Amhara, 70 percent of households have at least one mosquito net, and around half of children under age 5 and pregnant women reported sleeping under a net the previous night. This has resulted in a significant decline in malaria prevalence throughout Amhara, from 4.6 percent in 2006 to 0.8 percent in 2011.

Finally, the Center works with the Federal Ministry of Health and regional health bureaus to teach health workers to diagnose and treat cases and to detect and respond to outbreaks and epidemics of malaria. The Center has helped develop new guidelines for malaria surveillance and epidemic detection to ensure that outbreaks are dealt with quickly and provides health education to encourage appropriate use and care of bed nets. As a result of these activities, the proportion of eligible health facilities submitting weekly data increased from 51 percent to more than 90 percent in 2012.

+Increasing Food Production

In 1993, a joint venture between 's Agriculture Program and the Sasakawa Africa Association helped Ethiopian farmers improve agricultural production. The program supported regional departments of agriculture in high-potential agricultural areas of the country, helping them more effectively assist farmers in maintaining high levels of food crop production. The program provided farmers with credit for fertilizers and enhanced seeds to grow test plots, which often had 200 to 400 percent higher yields. Participating farmers went on to teach others, creating a ripple effect to stimulate self-sufficiency.

Part of a larger partnership led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, the initiative  helped more than 8 million small-scale sub-Saharan African farmers in countries where malnutrition is a constant threat.

ended its agricultural activities in Ethiopia in 2011.

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