Smiling women


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

In 2023-24 we've reached


79,163 people directly


including 45,775 people through our peacebuilding work


and over 10,773,819 indirectly through radio broadcasts, social media, theatre, and community campaigns covering sexual and reproductive health and social inclusion.

Healthy communities

Woman attend session

Our health programming supports women to make empowered family planning choices.

Make Way

January 2021 to December 2025

Our Make Way project is ensuring everybody, including those who are most marginalised, are able to realise their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). SRHR are human rights, that allow people to make informed decisions about relationships, their bodies, family planning, sexuality, and wellbeing.

The programme aims to enhance access to SRHR for youth facing discrimination, through innovative lobby and advocacy by youth civil society organisations and their allies. We work by strengthening youth leadership to ensure youth are the leading voice in making sure those who face discrimination, can exercise their right to SRHR. 

Learn more about Make Way

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.

Integrated Peace, Development and Humanitarian Efforts (IDPHE)

Womens group
VSO/Paul Wambugu
The IPDHE project aims to empower local communities to identify the underlying problems that cause conflict and help them develop action plans to solve these problems.

Austrian Development Agency (2022-2024)

VSO is implementing an integrated peace, development and humanitarian project in Marsabit, Moyale, and Borane regions at the border of Kenya and Ethiopia.

This cross-border project is anticipated to reduce conflict and enhance resilience and peaceful coexistence of cross-border communities at the Ethiopia-Kenya border.  

VSO volunteers are building the capacity of community-based organisations to engage in peacebuilding, develop early warning systems, build resilience and address issues of drought using our social inclusion, and social accountability models.

The project aims to work with 43 indigenous institutions, 20 peace and 20 disaster risk reduction committees, 15 local civil society organisations, 120 government officials, community leaders, and 4000 community members, and ultimately reach 157,000 people. 


Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CYFE)

Dutch MFA (2021-2025) 

The CFYE program works with social enterprises to support job creation and decent and inclusive employment for Ethiopian youth, women, and people with disabilities.

This is achieved through targeted capacity strengthening for social enterprises to help them to be inclusive employers and to drive meaningful policy change for gender, social, and disability inclusion in the workplace.

Learn more about CYFE

Active Citizenship Through Volunteering and Empowerment (ACTIVE)

FCDO (2022-2025)

uk aid logo

Through the ACTIVE programme, VSO delivers interventions that are aimed at improving the livelihoods of most vulnerable communities at the Ethiopia and Kenya cross-border, while promoting the uptake of the Global Volunteering Standard.

In the Borena Zone, Moyale and Miyo (woredas), ACTIVE is integrated with the IPDHE peacebuilding project, providing the delivery of livelihood training to communities living in fragile contexts and helping them to diversify their livelihoods to cope with natural and human made vulnerabilities.

ACTIVE works closely with prominent government ministers including the Ministry of Peace, Ministry of Women, Children and Youth, and the Agency for Civil Society Organizations to promote the mainstreaming of the volunteering for development approach and support the formulation of the Ethiopian national volunteering policy.

In addition, ACTIVE is supporting local youth networks and volunteering organisations in Ethiopia, using capacity building activities to enhance their technical capabilities and create virtual and physical spaces that facilitate networking opportunities for active participation of key actors in priority topics.

More about the ACTIVE programme

Previous projects we’ve worked on


Reducing newborn deaths

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.

VSO 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


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

Building skills for market-based livelihoods for youth in Assosa

Funded by NORAD, the project harnessed 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 provided 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 targeted 4600 youth learners aged 15-24 and 100 instructors and other educational professionals. These were 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, Bole sub-city, woreda 4, Hayahulet area behind Meklit building.
Postal address: PO Box 23531, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Phone: +251 (1) 6662975

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.

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:

Young female farmers in Kenya
VSO/Paul Wambugu

Resilient livelihoods

Ensuring people have the skills and opportunities needed to support themselves and their families.

200,000 people benefited from our work supporting livelihoods in 2022-23.

Girls at the She Club, a safe space for girls to learn about SRHR
Chosa Mweemba

Adolescent and youth health and wellbeing

Improving health services and empowering people to exercise their right to quality care.

We helped almost 90,000 people access better healthcare in 2022-23.

Purnima at a catch up class
Suraj Shakya

Inclusive education

Making sure everyone gets the skills they need to live a fulfilled, dignified life.

We helped over 3.2 million people to access the quality education they deserve in 2022-23.