Located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is a vibrant and dynamic country of 110 million inhabitants, making it Africa’s second most populous nation. It’s home to a wide range of ethnic groups, cultures and languages, with a rich but turbulent history. Ethiopia’s economy is growing faster than any other on the continent, with a predominantly rural population. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, agriculture employs around 72% of Ethiopians, almost all being smallholder farmers. The country relies almost entirely on this cohort of smallholders for approximately 94% of its food.

This dependence on smallholder agricultural food production puts Ethiopia in a perilous position in the context of rapidly accelerating climate change. Droughts, floods and soil erosion caused by extreme weather are already having a devastating effect on food security and levels of poverty.

The land systems upon which rural communities rely are themselves being depleted, with soil, water, forests, and biodiversity being impacted severely. To mitigate the economic and environmental challenges rural communities are facing, immediate and effective climate action is needed.

Vita has been working in Ethiopia since 2005, particularly in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) and the Amhara Region, creating innovative local solutions to these urgent problems. 

Our work in Ethiopia focuses on:

Food Security

We partner with rural communities to ensure access to nutritious and sufficient food all year round. We support communities in adopting climate-smart agriculture that increases farm yields and household incomes without harming the environment. Vita’s climate smart programmes help farming families to adapt to climate change while protecting and restoring the natural resource base that supports sustainable rural livelihoods. We are helping to build sustainable food production in Ethiopia through community-based seed multiplication systems for strategic food security crops, including the potato. We support families to grow a wider range of food crops so they can have a varied diet and better nutrition.

Inclusive Rural Livelihoods

We support the development of inclusive rural value chains and strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers to engage profitably within them to raise household incomes. We will prioritise climate-smart local economic development strategies that link women and rural youth, including persons with disabilities, to farm, off-farm, and non-farm economic opportunities.

Access to clean water

The Waterpoint repairing Programme in Northern Ethiopia is dedicated to addressing the critical water scarcity and inadequate infrastructure faced by rural communities in the region. This programme focuses on repairing and upgrading existing community water points, such as handpumps and protected springs, to ensure uninterrupted  access to clean and safe water for drinking, sanitation, and agricultural purposes. It also emphasises community engagement, capacity building, and the promotion of sustainable water management practices to enhance the resilience and well-being of local communities. 

Access to sustainable household energy

The Fuel Efficient Stoves Programme is a collaborative initiative between Vita and local partners. It focuses on promoting the use of innovative and sustainable cookstove technologies which are designed to optimise fuel consumption and minimise harmful emissions. The programme encompasses capacity building, awareness campaigns, and strategic partnerships to drive widespread adoption of these cleaner cooking solutions. By promoting the adoption of fuel-efficient stoves, this programme aims to improve energy efficiency, reduce indoor air pollution, mitigate deforestation, and empower local communities, especially women-led associations involved in stove production. 

Protecting the environment and taking climate action

Our community-managed land and forest restoration programmes help forests to regenerate, reduce soil erosion, converse water and mitigate climate change by protecting and enhancing trees that sequester carbon. 

Projects currently being implemented in Ethiopia include:

Irish Aid, Innovation for Climate Smart Communities in Ethiopia and Eritrea programme, 2024-2028 .

We are delighted to partner with Irish Aid on this project, advance community-led development and adoption of climate-smart technologies, approaches and methodologies to deliver tangible economic and social benefits for rural communities most exposed to the impact of climate breakdown, while strengthening long term resilience, adaptation and mitigation.

400,000 people from resource-poor rural communities in Ethiopia and Eritrea who will benefit from improved food security, increased resilience, and adaptive capacity in the face of climate change and improved service delivery and policy environments in which these gains can be sustained.

The programme leverages on Vita’s expertise in developing effective seed systems in strategic crops (e.g. potato, wheat and hybrid maize), community-led solutions promoting climate-smart technology adoption and behaviour change, and partnerships for innovation.

Read more about our partnership with Irish Aid HERE

CLT-Stoves project (Community-Led Total Adoption of Improved Cookstoves), 2023-2030

After a very successful trial of the CLT-Stoves approach, Vita is extending the CLT-Stoves programme to reach an additional 200,000 households with fuel efficient cookstoves. The project aims to bring about 100% adoption of improved cookstoves in these villages. The reduction of fuel wood burnt reduces local deforestation, while also reducing harmful emissions from cooking. The project has added benefits for women and children who are disproportionately affected by the use of inefficient cooking methods. Fuel wood collection requires significant daily labor and time, with multiple knock-on effects including school absenteeism and lack of time for other livelihood activities. Vita has established a Community-Led Learning Centre which works closely with the nine village communities, enabling us to further modify and improve our approach in real time.

The Fuel Efficient Stoves Programme represents a concerted effort to address pressing environmental and health challenges associated with traditional cooking methods in East African communities. By promoting the adoption of fuel-efficient stoves, this programme aims to improve energy efficiency, reduce indoor air pollution, mitigate deforestation, and empower local communities, especially women-led associations involved in stove production.   

GIZ Forests 4 Future project: Integrated Forest Landscape Restoration for Livelihood Improvement in the Catchment of Lake Chamo, 

Deforestation is a serious problem across all regions of Ethiopia. This forest restoration project assists international, national and local stakeholders to reverse forest degradation around Lake Chamo in SNNPR. Regional and local community actors are restoring forests by creating tree-rich productive landscapes and managing them in a sustainable way. This will restore important forests, decrease soil erosion and improve the livelihoods of rural communities in the catchment of Lake Chamo. This year, Vita are working with households to engage in income-generating agroforestry practices.