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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 number of refugees
Internally displaced persons
Refugees from other countries
New refugees
Voluntary returns
Source: UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). The figures are from the beginning of 2016.


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.

In 2015, Ethiopia hosted more than 720,000 refugees. They were mainly from neighbouring South Sudan, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. Between 500,000 and 800,000 people in Ethiopia are internally displaced, mainly because of instability and conflicts in the Oromia and Somali regions, but also as a result of natural disasters induced by climate change.

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.

Neighbours at war

The refugee population continue to rise, due to the war in South Sudan and the growing influx from Eritrea. More than 200,000 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 now experiences the worst drought in decades. In December 2015, more than 10 million people needed emergency food aid.

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 2015

people benefited from our education programme
people benefited from our food security 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.


Food security

Right now, Ethiopia is experiencing a devastating drought. Against this backdrop, 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 in the four regions of Gambella, Shire, Dollo Ado and Assosa.
  • Provide temporary shelters, made of poles and plastic sheeting.
  • Ensure shelters last longer by building them with bamboo walls and corrugated iron sheet roofs. We also build tukuls, cone-shaped mud huts that are strong and durable.
  • Provide physical and economic protection to people affected by displacement.
  • Construct schools.



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.
  • Reduce mortality.
  • Raise hygiene awareness.

Budget 2016
140 Million NOK
International staff
Field offices
Dollo Ado, Somali region Jigjiga/Dirri-Dawa, Shire, Tigray Region Assosa, Benishangul-Gumuz Region Gambella
Budget 2015
174 Million NOK
National staff
503 (and over 700 incentive staff)

NRC in Ethiopia

Country Director

Ahmednur Abdi


+251(0) 921943101