Ethiopia: Development Think Tank Ava Herzer

Overview and Statistics: Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries with one of the highest populations in the world, about 102,374,044 people (Ethiopia: Population). With an HDI of 0.442 and ranked 174, Ethiopia is an African country which lacks adequate medical care while dealing with many diseases, a poor education system, and is ruled by an authoritarian, restrictive government. All of this hinders development. The average life expectancy for its citizens is 64.1 which is fairly low and about 64.4 per 1,000 children under five years of age die. Diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis are responsible for the high infant mortality rate which is 44.4 per 1,000 children. Immunization is uncommon so this makes it easier for people to get infected with these deadly diseases. Regarding education, Ethiopia only invests 4.7% of its GDP in its public expenditure for education. Its expected number of years of schooling is 8.5 but, in reality, the mean number of years of schooling is 2.4 which is much lower. The adult literacy rate is 39% (Human Development Reports).

Geography and Climate: Ethiopia has numerous root reasons as to why it has not developed successfully. First, most of Ethiopia's citizens work as farmers but Ethiopia is a mountainous, landlocked country with poor soils which makes it very difficult to grow food. Ethiopia’s tropical climate also creates challenges. The highlands and lowlands of Ethiopia endure rainy seasons and dry seasons. “The amount of rainfall differs by region and varies widely from year to year. This is a factor that causes extreme problems for agriculture and animals, the two main sources of sustenance for much of the population”. In addition to rainy and dry seasons, Ethiopia suffers from droughts and natural disasters such as earthquakes. (Ethiopia: Land and Climate).

Government and Economy: Ethiopia's government and economy are two additional reasons why the country hasn't been able to successfully develop. The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (ERPDF) controls Ethiopia’s government. However, the government is very corrupt. It is in charge of the media and anyone who is critical of the ERPDF are harassed and prosecuted. Due to the oppression of its citizens and the obstruction of their rights, human rights is seen as a critical issue within Ethiopia’s borders. The government fails to treat its citizens properly and provide the necessities for them to succeed (Ethiopia: Government). Economy wise, most of Ethiopia’s citizens work as farmers. However, connecting back to geography, this profession provides little or no access to the resources necessary to pursue the farmers’ goals of supporting their family since only about 15% of their land is suitable for growing their crops. With their GDP being one of the lowest in the world, Ethiopia’s citizens are struggling to provide for their families (Ethiopia: Economy).

Health: Lastly, Ethiopia’s healthcare is so harmful to the country that it has contributed to the underdevelopment as well and is a major reason why success can’t be made. Most Ethiopians don’t have access to proper medical care so this is why so many die of diseases and illnesses as a result of not being properly vaccinated. This is also a reason why infant and maternal mortality rates are so high and life expectancy is so low. There aren't enough doctors to help cure them and their not medically advance in their treatments yet (Ethiopia: Health).

What has been done in the past: USAid has worked with Ethiopia to help with its development process. Especially over the last decade, the county has made progress education, health, and food wise. USAid had helped in issues concerning agriculture, human rights and governance, education, gender equality, global health, water quality. Unfortunately, with all this having been done, Ethiopia is still one of the poorest countries in the world (Ethiopia, U.S. Agency for International Development).

Policy Suggestion #1: After researching the conditions in Ethiopia and what has been done so far, I propose three policies that I think will make a difference in their development process. My first policy concerns healthcare and how to make it better.

  • Because disease is spread throughout the country lowering the life expectancy, I think the WHO should get involved and have them provide health services such as vaccinations, prevent diseases, sanitary issues, etc.
  • The WHO communicates with the UN to try and improve health issues in countries faced with them. As said on their website, “together we strive to combat diseases – infectious diseases like influenza and HIV and noncommunicable ones like cancer and heart disease. We help mothers and children survive and thrive so they can look forward to a healthy old age. We ensure the safety of the air people breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink – and the medicines and vaccines they need” (Who We Are, What We Do, World Health Organization).
  • As an additional step, public health programs sponsored by private concerns such as charities, universities, private foundations must be fashioned.

Policy Suggestion #2: My second policy focuses on the government and how we can push for a possible regime change. From facts stated above, it is obvious that Ethiopia’s government proposes a detrimental problem to their development.

  • While going for regime change can be a difficult thing to fix, I feel that we can do this by putting pressure on them with the use of sanctions.
  • Get the UN, a powerful international institution, involved, especially the Commission of Human Rights since Ethiopia’s government is known as a violator of human rights.
  • Another tool used to improve human rights can be Amnesty international. They would fight for the appropriate treatment of Ethiopia’s citizens.

Policy Suggestion #3: My final proposed policy has to do with the education system.

  • My first concern is with women’s rights, more specifically their education. Even though the US has pushed for women’s equality, I think that we should push for women's education specifically because this will give women the same rights as men and allow them to pursue a future outside of the home.
  • Other countries should give financial assistance for activities such as building schools, training teachers, and providing school supplies and these projects should be monitored so that the money is being used for the cause it was meant for.
  • The organization UNESCO should promote literacy programs used to increase the amount of education an Ethiopian receives (UNESCO).
  • UNICEF should overlook this to make sure all children are receiving a fair and good education (UNICEF).

Works Cited

"Ethiopia." U.S. Agency for International Development. Web. 23 Feb. 2017

"Ethiopia: Economy." CultureGrams Online Edition, ProQuest, 2017,

"Ethiopia: Government." CultureGrams Online Edition, ProQuest, 2017,

"Ethiopia: Health." CultureGrams Online Edition, ProQuest, 2017,

"Ethiopia: Land and Climate." CultureGrams Online Edition, ProQuest, 2017,

"Ethiopia: Population." CultureGrams Online Edition, ProQuest, 2017,

"Human Development Reports." | Human Development Reports. Web. 23 Feb. 2017,

“Rich World, Poor World: A Guide to Global Development.” Center for Global Development. Web. 23. 2017.

"UNESCO." UNESCO. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

"UNICEF." Home | UNICEF. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.

"Who We Are, What We Do." World Health Organization. World Health Organization. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.


Created with images by Tim Green aka atoach - "Fly the flag" • neiljs - "Addis Ababa, Ethiopia" • Synergos Institute - "ethiopia_synergos 2015-90" • Ahron de Leeuw - "Harar wonderful street (Ethiopia) 2" • GlaxoSmithKline - "Dessie Referral Hospital in Afar region, Ethiopia" • Ahron de Leeuw - "Harar wonderful street (Ethiopia) 4" • D-Stanley - "Koka Reservoir" • Ahron de Leeuw - "Harar rain coming (Ethiopia)" • D-Stanley - "Hamer Girls"

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