A smiling young mother lies in a hospital bed and holds her newborn baby on her chest
VSO/Ginny Lattul


We've worked in Ethiopia since 1995, building healthy communities and strengthening inclusive education systems.


In 2017-18, we supported 22,681 children to benefit from a quality inclusive education.


Health facilities where we established or strengthened a NICU have seen a 40% average reduction in institutional mortality.


Since 2018, we've trained over 2,000 teachers to deliver psychosocial support for children impacted by conflict.

Healthy communities

A midwife and a VSO volunteer help a mother to position her newborn baby comfortably
VSO/Peter Caton

Professional volunteers are building the capacity of health workers by sharing specialist skills.

Our health programme in Ethiopia focuses on improving maternal, neonatal and child heath through two complementary strands: improving access to quality health services, and increasing the demand for such services.

Over the past six years, we’ve either established or improved 47 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), 12 newborn corners (NBCs), four high dependency units (HDUs) and four maternity waiting homes. Alongside providing this essential infrastructure and equipment, we’ve built the capacity of doctors and other health workers through training, coaching and mentoring delivered by professional volunteers.

Through awareness-raising campaigns and community outreach activities, run in collaboration with the Ethiopian Government and other development partners, we’ve successfully driven increased demand for health services, with hospital admission rates doubling in some instances. In the rural Tigray region, we identified 102 mothers who had suffered pelvic organ prolapse and obstetrics fistula, supporting them not only to receive essential medical care, but also to be successfully reintegrated into their community.

Reducing newborn deaths

Inclusive education

Children sing and clap happily in a busy classroom
VSO/Jasper Kasbergen

We're working to make quality education accessible for children in even the most underserved regions.

Our work in inclusive education focuses on reaching pre-primary and primary age children in some of Ethiopia’s most underserved regions. We aim to increase participation and improve the learning outcomes of the most marginalised children, by addressing the system-level barriers that can hold them back.

By building the capacity of teacher training colleges, supporting the development of culturally-appropriate resources, and training teachers in inclusive learning principles, we’re driving improvements in school attendance, quality and equity of education, and children’s learning outcomes. In 2017/18 we reached over 3,000 education professionals, in turn impacting almost 23,000 children.

Education in emergencies

In partnership with UNICEF, we're enhancing the capacity of teachers to provide psychosocial support to children impacted by internal conflict. By creating safe and supportive school environments, we’re working to build the resilience of children in conflict-affected areas, and enhance existing protection mechanisms by establishing child-friendly spaces.

Since 2018, we’ve trained over 2,000 teachers and reached 1,440 community representatives in the Oromia region through monthly awareness-raising interventions focusing on child protection and risk factors.

Research from our psychsocial support project

Resilient livelihoods

Ethiopia hosts the second largest number of refugees and Asylum seekers in Africa. Even though some refugees have stayed in Ethiopia for more than 20 years, they have limited options in terms of durable solutions. The Government’s encampment policy does not promote the integration of refugees, despite the presence of second and third generation refugees residing in the camps.

Building skills for market-based livelihoods for youth in Assosa

Funded by NORAD, the project harnesses the productive potential of refugees and their host community in Assosa, Ethiopia by linking them to market opportunities and promoting the development of commercially valuable skills for young people while supporting Ethiopia's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in creating employment by facilitating local, regional, and national linkages. The project provides young people with demand-driven skills and capabilities along with comprehensive support to enable them to be prepared, positioned, and equipped to transition from learning to work and other livelihood opportunities. 

The project targets 4600 youth learners aged 15-24 and 100 instructors and other educational professionals. These are conflict-affected youth from Assosa with particular attention paid to young dropouts, girls, people with disability (PWDs) and child-headed households (70% refugee and 30% host communities), aiming to reach 40% of female primary actor engagement by the end of the project. 

Contact us

We work with a number of partners including the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and UNICEF.

If you are interested in supporting our work, or if you have another query, get in touch:

Office address: VSO Ethiopia, Nefas Silk Lafto Sub City, Woreda 03 HNO 161/01 (behind the Canadian Embassy)
Postal address: PO Box 23531, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tel: (+251) 11 384 8276
Email: vsoeth@ethionet.et

Volunteer with us

We are always looking for more skilled specialists.

Find out more about volunteering with us in Ethiopia

Stories from Ethiopia

Doctor Tsigemariam Bekalu listens to a baby's heartbeat pre-delivery
VSO/Peter Caton

Twelve hours in newborn A&E

This photo diary of a day in the life of a remote hospital in north-east Ethiopia reveals how VSO-trained nurses and midwives are fighting to save lives.

Ethiopian children sat in a class, smiling and clapping their hands
VSO/Jasper Kasbergen

5 ways we're helping children with disabilities in Ethiopia

With your help, VSO is assisting the Ethiopian government with improving education in the underdeveloped region of Benishangul-Gumuz. Focusing on marginalised and indigenous communities, children with disabilities now have the opportunity to receive an education. From buying hearing aids to building ramps, see how your donations are making a difference.  

School visit, Ethiopia
VSO/Kamal Jaga

Meet the volunteer providing psychosocial support to those affected by conflict

Kamal Jaga, 40, from the UK, volunteered on the VSO Psychosocial Support Project in Ethiopia, a country ragged by internal conflict that created an estimated 2.2m internally displaced people. Read his story.

Find out more about our work in:

A smiling young mother lies in a hospital bed and holds her newborn baby on her chest
VSO/Ginny Lattul

Maternal and newborn health

Improving access to quality healthcare for mothers and babies. 

Children using tablet computers on the VSO Malawi Unlocking Talent project

Education system strengthening

Developing inclusive education systems that leave no child behind.

Two young Rohingya boys sit on the floor of a child-friendly centre in the Cox's Bazar camp, drawing with colouring pencils

Education in emergencies

Building resilient education systems in fragile spaces.