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(At least) three faces of Ethiopia

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Africa

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. It's currently in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, its economy is slowing and it's vulnerable to climate change. It's landlocked, in a relatively unstable region that includes borders with Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea.

This is the face of Ethiopia that you're probably familiar with.

Another face of Ethiopia that you might know is the incredible success of Ethiopia's athletes, most recently at the Beijing Olympics where Ethiopia won 4 gold, a silver and 2 bronze medals on the athletics track. And in the recent Berlin Marathon, Haile Gebrselassie, who failed to win a medal in Beijing, broke his own world record and became the first person in history to break the 2 hours 4 minute barrier for the men's marathon.

But there is a third face of Ethiopia that doesn’t make the headlines, but does get me up in the morning.

Recent years have seen double-digit economic growth and rapid expansion of basic health and education services across Ethiopia. An incredible 20 million bed nets have been distributed which have slashed the number of children getting sick and dying from malaria. And nearly 25,000 Community Health Workers have been trained to deliver family planning, immunisation, and health education within their communities.

Last month I travelled south to see some of this inspiring progress for myself. Seeing the difference that these sorts of development interventions are having on the lives of real people - men, women and children - that's what gets me up in the morning.

Perhaps there's a fourth face of Ethiopia that I haven't yet discovered? Or even a fifth?

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  1. Comment by Fiona Louise Lappin posted on

    Hi Howard. I like your 'three (or more) faces'. You are absolutely right that not many people know about the second and particularly the third faces of countries like Ethiopia! These are important hidden faces that need to be revealed. Here in Vietnam, where I started as Head around the same time as you started in Addis I see similarly contrasting faces.. After being devasted by war, Vietnam has had an amazing poverty reduction story - 24 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the last 15 years or so. But when you actually live here it is so much more real as you can feel the change going on, but also the challenges existing. If you want to see another face of Vietnam , see my post on Mark Kent's blog . Mark is UK Ambassador in Vietnam , and we work so closely that he asked me to do a guest blog on his site for Blog Action Day 08 on Poverty. Fiona.