SOS Children in Ethiopia


Children from Gode, Ethiopia

Our charity has been helping children in Ethiopia since a disastrous drought in 1974. We started working in Makalle, the region worst hit by the famine, and since then have been helping many orphaned and abandoned children across the country.

With SOS Children, you can help orphaned and abandoned children in Ethiopia by sponsoring a child:

Sponsor a child in Ethiopia

Worsening poverty as a result of natural disasters, conflict and lack of healthcare

Frequent droughts and famines, a long-lasting civil war and a border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea have had a serious effect on Ethiopia, leaving it as one of the poorest nations in the world.

As only 1 in 6 of Ethiopia's population is actively contributing to the economy, most Ethiopians do not have a regular income to spend. Life expectancy is low, on average only 54 years and nearly two-thirds of Ethiopia's population are illiterate. Almost half the country's population is undernourished and 39% face a life on less than US $1.25 a day.  Poverty is particularly high for those living in rural areas. Access to healthcare is extremely limited: according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ethiopia has only three doctors per 100,000 people. 

Ethiopia map

Children in Ethiopia

  • Ethiopia is a very young nation with around 45% of its population under the age of 14, which is partly due to the country's low life expectancy.
  • The infant mortality rate is at a shocking 109 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • The HIV/AIDS crisis is affecting children in Ethiopia. Due to the disease, an estimated 830,000 children in Ethiopia have lost one or both of their parents. Large numbers of these children are street children, with nowhere to sleep. Many are involved in petty crime and beg on the streets.
  • Roughly 40% of all Ethiopian children under the age of five are chronically undernourished.

Our charity work in Ethiopia

Our charity provides long term support to hundreds of children through our work in Ethiopia. We support children and young people by providing day care, education, medical services and vocational training. We try to keep children together with their families, helping them to avoid the pitfalls that they would otherwise face. If children cannot be cared for by their families, for any number of reasons, we provide a loving mother and home in one of our SOS Children's Villages.


The first SOS Children’s Village was constructed in Makalle, the capital of Tigray, northern Ethiopia, the region worst hit byChildren at CV Bahir Dar, Ethiopia the 1974 famine.  The Village has 19 family houses, three SOS Youth Homes, an SOS Nursery, Primary and Secondary School, an SOS Vocational Training Centre (including a nursing school), an SOS Farm to teach children basic agriculture and to provide a source of food, an SOS Medical Centre, and an SOS Social Centre that runs a Family Strengthening Programme. The SOS Farm, Medical Centre and Schools are all open to the local community.

In 1985, drought and famine again hit Ethiopia. An artificial reservoir was constructed at Makalle to supply the SOS Children's Village and the Farm, as well as the surrounding community. SOS Children established a wide-reaching emergency relief programme feeding over 1,000 people a day and providing emergency accommodation in Wukro, about 31 miles north of Makalle, and in Awassa in the Rift Valley.


SOS Children’s Village Harrar, 360 miles east of Addis Abeba, the capital, opened in 1980. The region is frequently devastated by drought. Harrar has 15 family houses, and an SOS Nursery, Primary and Secondary School.

Addis Abeba

Our third community was built in Addis Abeba in 1981. It provides a new home for over 150 children and young people in its 15 family houses and three SOS Youth Homes. Here, older children can take their first guided steps towards independence, living together while they complete their education or acquire a trade at the SOS Vocational Training Centre which has workshops for carpentry, metalwork and car mechanics. The charity also has an SOS Nursery School, SOS Medical Centre and SOS Social Centre in the city.

Children at CV Gode, EthiopiaAwassa

We opened a Children's Village in Awassa in 1985, with 15 family houses. Two SOS Youth Homes have since been added. The Village also has an SOS Nursery, Primary and Secondary School, an SOS Medical Centre and an SOS Social Centre.

Bahir Dar

In 1985 the SOS Andassa Farm was set up at Bahir Dar, north of Addis Abeba on the banks of Lake Tana, to supply basic foodstuffs to all of the SOS Children's communities in Ethiopia. The main emphasis is on dairy farming and vegetable production. It has an animal feeding unit and it also provides agricultural training to SOS youths.

Bahir Dar, one of the most dynamic and fast-growing towns in Ethiopia, is the site of the country's fifth SOS Children's Village. The village has 12 family houses, an SOS Youth Home, and educational and medical facilities.


Another catastrophic drought in 2000 led to a further emergency relief programme, this time in Ogaden in the south-east, near the border with Somalia. An emergency relief centre was set up in Gode to provide food and basic medical treatment, while work began on a new SOS Children's Village in Gode. The completed village opened in August 2004 and has 12 family homes. In September 2005 an SOS Nursery for over 100 children and an SOS Primary and Secondary School for over 400 pupils were opened. The SOS Medical Centre caring for over 10,000 patients a year, has been in operation since January 2002.


SOS Children's Village Jimma opened in 2012 and offers care to up to 150 children in 15 family houses. There is also an SOS School and SOS Nursery offering education to over 800 children. An SOS Medical Centre provides healthcare for up to 6,000 patients a year. An SOS Social Centre helps people in the wider community.

Aids Orphans in Ethiopia

SOS School Bahir Dar EthiopiaLife in SOS Children's Villages Ethiopia: Zenaye's belief in education

Zenaye Solomon grew up in SOS Children’s Village Addis Abeba. She is a vibrant young woman who worked in the USA, France, South Africa and Ghana before she took on the post of Strategic Initiative Advisor for SOS Children's Villages in Zimbabwe. This is her story:

"A smile lights up my face as I look back to my golden days as a child in house seven at SOS Children's Village Addis Abeba. I hold dearly the memory of me standing in front of the stove stirring the "watt" [an Ethiopian traditional food bowl]. I am carrying my dearest baby brother Erimas (may his soul rest in peace) on my back and whilst the food is cooking I am reading my geography textbook. Whenever I have this memory I give credit to my dearest SOS mother, Almaz Abate, for instilling the value of hard work and for nurturing genuine love and care for others in me at such a young age. 

"Education certainly unlocked my potential. I am a firm believer in the power of education to enable one to make better choices in life. SOS Children's Villages gave me this opportunity to make it in this rather competitive world, and I understood I needed to take an active part in shaping my future because I was fortunate enough to have the love, care and support I needed from my SOS family."

"Education is the key to secure a brighter future and it is crucial for the development of yourself, your community and your country.  Your future career is highly dependent on the kind of education and professional training you get. You literally have to regard your education as a key to unlocking the dream of a bright future that lies ahead."

Local Contact

SOS Children's Villages Ethiopia   

Postal address:

P.O.Box 3495

Addis Abeba


Tel: +251 11 6611501, +251 11 661165

Fax: +251 11 6611633