Finland’s development cooperation in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has brought stability to the troubled Horn of Africa and the country continues to play an important role in the region. Ethiopia has participated in peacekeeping operations in Africa, and it hosts a large number of refugees from its neighbouring countries. It is one of the world’s poorest countries, but also one of the fastest growing economies. Ethiopia’s most important goals are to ensure continued economic growth and to secure a stable income for its rapidly growing population. The Government is also investing in the provision of basic public services, such as access to education and supply of clean water. Finland's planned budget frame for 2016–2019 is EUR 55 million.

Country Strategy:

Country Strategy for Development Cooperation with Ethiopia 2016–2019(Opens New Window)

Etiopia infograafi, englanti

Commercial cooperation

Trade between Finland and Ethiopia has been modest but the countries are willing to expand their current commercial relations. Economic relations are fostered through the Team Finland network.  Finland’s long-term water sector cooperation with Ethiopia lays a foundation for the promotion of trade relations. Additionally, efforts are made to strengthen cooperation particularly in the education and agro-business sectors.

Civil society organisations

Several Finnish civil society organisations (CSOs) are carrying out projects in collaboration with local Ethiopian organisations.  Through their wide experience of working in Ethiopia, Finnish CSOs have gained considerable expertise of the country, and their projects complement the bilateral activities implemented under the Country Strategy.    In order to attain the goals set in the Country Strategy, it is very important to make use of CSOs’ expertise, for example in such areas as education and the position of people with a disability. 


The start of development cooperation between Finland and Ethiopia dates back to 1967. The cooperation has produced good results.

  • Thanks to the over 20,000 water points that have been constructed, nearly five million people have gained access to safe water services. The water points have proved to withstand use and builders have gradually learned to make them faster. Today, 1.4 million people have access to improved sanitation facilities (latrines). A project being implemented by Finland during 2016–2019 provides water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for 900,000 Ethiopians.
  • Finland has developed a model for water programmes, which ensures their sustainable operation. The Government of Ethiopia is responsible for over half of the funding, and local communities are working together to collect the required nest egg. Villagers will build and maintain their own wells. Building a well and a latrine costs about 10 euros per a community resident. The model has proved so efficient that the Government of Ethiopia has adopted it as one its own models of operation.
  • In the Amhara Regional State, 88,000 members of farmer cooperatives have received funding to be able to improve agricultural production, and 5,500 people have been trained to develop their living in the agriculture sector.  Approximately 440,000 people have benefited from a project, supported by Finland, which aims to improve food security and foster ways of earning a decent income. More than 900 people have found work and a source of income through the project.
  • About 17,000 households’ land tenure is secured now that they have been granted a certificate of land use rights to their 60,000 parcels of land. Of these, 22 per cent are single parent households headed by the mother. Both rights-holders (rural people) and those responsible for land registration (authorities) are now more aware of and have better knowledge about a fair land registration process. As a result, user rights conflicts have decreased.
  • Following a reform after which basic education has become free, more schools have been built and more teachers are being trained, over 90 per cent of Ethiopian children start school at the age of seven.   In addition, more study books are now available and the quality of teacher training has improved. The quality of education continues to be poor but efforts are made to improve it in future.
  • The cooperation benefits over 22 million pupils attending comprehensive school, nearly half of them girls. More than 7,000 teachers have been trained under a bilateral special educational needs project (2013–2017).
  • Increasing numbers of children with disabilities or with other special support needs attend school in Ethiopia. During the past five years, the number of pupils with special needs has almost doubled, but the majority of Ethiopian children with learning disabilities are not in school yet.

Risk management

Difficulties for the development cooperation between Finland and Ethiopia may arise from rapid population growth, climate (recurrent droughts, floods), weaknesses in the capacities of local administration and declining human rights situation and political freedoms in Ethiopia. The risks are mitigated by means of systematic monitoring of projects and programmes, and dialogue with the partners and the country’s administration. External audits and evaluations are also carried out regularly. 

Ongoing programmes:

Rural development:

  • Land management and registration: Second phase of REILA (Responsible and Innovative Land Management Project in Ethiopia) in 2017–2021; EUR 7.1 million.

  • Agro-business Induced Growth: Second phase of AgroBIG (Programme for Agro-Business Induced Growth in Amhara National Regional State) in 2017–2021; EUR 9.4 million.

Clean water and latrines for all:

  • Water supply, sanitation and hygiene: Third phase of COWASH (Community-led Accelerated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project) in 2016–2020: EUR 14.5 million.

  • Ethiopian Government’s water management, sanitation and hygiene fund: Consolidated Wash Account CWA: EUR 2 million in 2017–2019.

Education for all children:

  • General Education Quality Improvement Programme: GEQIP: 2014-2018: EUR 16.9 million.

  • Technical support for the Ethiopian Ministry of Education for the organisation of inclusive teaching and learning in 2018–2021: EUR 850,000.

  • National Union of University Students in Finland - SYL: Develpment of support services for students with a disability in three public universities in Ethiopia in 2019–2021: EUR 364,000.

Other support:

  • The support channelled through Finnish CSOs is approximately EUR two million a year. CSOs support Ethiopia’s development at grassroots level, for example in the education and rural development sectors.

  • Finland supports Ethiopia also through multilateral organisations, including via the EU and such international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) as the World Bank and the UN.

  • Two projects are supported through the Institutional Cooperation Instrument (ICI). The projects’ annual expenditure is approximately EUR 500,000.

  • Funds for local cooperation (FLCs) are used to support Ethiopian CSOs. Funds from the FLCs have been used to support the human rights, democracy and environmental sectors and equality work, education and special groups, such as persons with disabilities and pastoral communities.