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Photo: NRC/Emebet Abdissa
Read caption Photo: NRC/Emebet Abdissa

NRC in Ethiopia

As severe drought threatens lives and livelihoods in Ethiopia, people continue  crossing its borders to escape wars in neighbouring countries. NRC has provided assistance since 2011.


Total # of refugees from the country:
Total # of refugees to the country:
Total # of internally displaced:
New refugees from the country in 2016:
New refugees to the country in 2016:
New internally displaced in 2016:
Source: UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). The figures are from the beginning of 2017.


Humanitarian and political background

Conflict, drought and flooding are the main causes of displacement in Ethiopia. Surrounded by a region in conflict, Ethiopia is Africa's largest refugee hosting country.

Since October 2016, Ethiopia hosted more than 800,000 refugees. They were mainly from neighbouring South Sudan, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. Between 500,000 and 800,000 people in Ethiopia are internally displaced.

Climate change has taken its toll on the country, and in late 2015, Ethiopia was hit by a drought worse than the one that brought millions to the brink of starvation in the 1980s. As stated in Ethiopia’s Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) 2017, 5.6 million people are affected by drought and displacement out of which 1.9 Million households are in need of livestock support, while 2 million are without safe drinking water.

Neighbours at war

The refugee population continue to rise, due to the war in South Sudan and the growing influx from Eritrea. More than 300,000 refugees from South Sudan have crossed into Ethiopia's Gambella region since the war broke out in December 2013.

The country is also hosting refugees from other countries, including Kenya, Djibouti, DR Congo, Yemen, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

Shortage of food and water

The weather event El Niño has wreaked havoc on lives and livelihoods in Ethiopia, which experiences the worst drought in decades. In August 2016, around 9.7 million Ethiopians were still affected by the negative effects of drought and extensive flooding.

Many Ethiopians are poor, and often worse off than the refugees and internally displaced persons in the country. The competition for resources is tough.

If my grandfather was to wake up today, he would not recognise this place. It has become a shell from what it used to be.

Abdi Ahmed Ismail, discussing the drought in his community. Ethiopia (2016)

People we helped in Ethiopia in 2016

people benefited from our education programme
people benefited from our shelter programme
people benefited from our WASH programme


NRC in Ethiopia


Through our activities in four regions in Ethiopia, NRC strives to meet peoples' needs and help improve their livelihoods.

We assist people displaced by conflict and drought through our food security, shelter, education, and water and sanitation activities.

We will see this situation again and again. We need to empower people so that they can help themselves. We must not only truck water to communities; we must ensure permanent sources of drinking water. We must not only hand out food, but also help people find alternative livelihoods and focus on livestock health.

Mohamed Hassan, head of NRC operations in Jigjiga region of Ethiopia (2016)



NRC gives children and youth a chance to return to formal schooling after having missed out on education because of war.

Our education activities:

  • Give quality education to displacement-affected children and youth.
  • Train teachers.
  • Give literacy training to adults.
  • Provide school materials.
  • Provide livelihood opportunities to youth through Youth Education program (YEP).


Food security

We strive to improve peoples' living conditions and access to food and livelihood.

Through our food security activities, we:

  • Distribute seeds and agricultural tools for gardening.
  • Give training sessions on food security and agricultural production.



NRC is the main shelter provider in refugee camps in Ethiopia. Our shelter teams provide displaced people with basic and immediate physical protection, and work to improve their access to food and livelihoods.

Through our shelter activities, we:

  • Provide refugees and host communities with shelter.
  • Provide temporary shelters, made of poles and plastic sheeting.
  • Construct schools.
  • Provide Non Food items (NFIs).


Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

We improve access to safe and sufficient water and sanitation facilities, and promote hygiene awareness.

Our WASH activities:

  • Facilitate access to clean water and latrines.
  • Construct and maintain water infrastructure.
  • Provide water for agricultural production.
  • Raise hygiene awareness.

Budget 2017
140 Million NOK
International staff
Field offices
Gambella, Asosa, Shire, Jijiga/Dire Dawa and Dollo Ado
Budget 2016
130 Million NOK
National staff

NRC in Ethiopia

Country Director

Ahmednur Abdi


+251(0) 921943101