This webpage aims at providing background information on the humanitarian and education situation in Ethiopia, as well as links to key documents and websites. If you are looking for more detailed information on the education response, please visit the Ethiopia Education Cluster operational webpage.

Humanitarian Situation Overview

Ethiopia is facing one of the worst droughts in decades, worsened by El Niño effects. The two main rainy seasons – that supply over 80 per cent of Ethiopia’s agricultural yield and employ 85 per cent of the workforce – were not successful in 2015. Livelihoods have been destroyed due to live-stock death or poor health, or remain precarious due to limited access to seeds and other agricultural inputs. Lives are at risk due to the lack of food and water, and the risk of disease outbreaks. Over 10 million people are in need of emergency food assistance. Flooding, droughts and conflict induced population displacement lead to increasing needs for shelter, food and non-food items.

The Government of Ethiopia  is in charge of the coordination of the response, through the National Disaster Risk Management Coordination Commission. The international humanitarian community is working with the Ethiopian government on helping building resilience, but focuses on protecting livelihoods and saving lives. The 2016 Ethiopia Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) constitutes a joint government and humanitarian partners’ response plan. To date, the response is expanding, but according to OCHA, in mid-February, the HRD was only 48% funded, which means that additional funding is required to address the most urgent, time-bound gaps.

Impact on Children and Education

The education system is heavily impacted when flooding destroys schools and droughts force families to abandon their homes in search of food, water and protection.
Assessments indicate that more than 2 million primary school students have been affected by drought, floods, or conflict. Droughts trigger population displacement, in search of food and water, and as a consequence, children no longer attend school. Children are missing out on up to 3 days of school a week (more than half of their normal attendance) as they support their families by fetching water, taking care of younger siblings, or taking livestock in search of water sources. Inadequate feeding limits the level of children’s attention in class. Children are at high risk of dropping-out; and of being exposed to protection issues related to child labor, trafficking and exploitation.
Ethiopia_smallHalf-empty classroom in the Tigray region
of northern Ethiopia

During the past years, Ethiopia has made remarkable progress in primary school education. In order to maintain these achievements, partners are calling for increased funding for the education drought response. Interventions will have to include support for teachers, in order to avoid that teachers leave their positions because of the hardship caused by the drought.

Education Response

The joint government and humanitarian partners’ response plan is designed around 3 strategic objectives: 1) save lives and reduce morbidity related to drought; 2) protect and restore livelihoods; and 3) prepare for and respond to other humanitarian shocks – natural disasters, conflict and displacement. In order to contribute to the achievement of these overarching strategic objectives, the Education Cluster has developed two Cluster specific objectives:

  • Provide a safe and protective environment to school-aged children and adolescents affected by shocks.
  • Promote the return of children to school through the provision of school meals.

In regions affected by conflict, cluster partners will ensure that educational services are not disrupted, while simultaneously implementing conflict sensitive programmes. In collaboration with the WASH and Nutrition Clusters, gender sensitive sanitation facilities will be installed, and food programmes aim at encouraging parents to send their children to school. Particular attention will also be given to dropouts among young people, to avoid exploitation through trafficking or child labour.

In order to facilitate the implementation of the HRD, Rapid Response team (RRT members deployed in January 2016 initiated the development of an implementation strategy, which aims to provide a common framework to all partners engaged in the Education in Emergencies (EiE) response in Ethiopia. The implementation strategy will also ensure a quality response through the agreement on core activities and standards for these activities, and provide common advocacy messages to support partners’ funding mobilization.  One of the main challenges of the Ethiopia Education Cluster is indeed the partners’ lack of EiE funding. As a result, some are reprogramming development funding for a first drought response.

In terms of priorities, the strategy spells out is a geographical and an activity prioritisation: 186 woredas (districts) were selected by the Ethiopian government as the most urgent. According to the Implementation Document, the Education Cluster will support 12,000 schools, but the ones with most urgent needs will be assisted first, such as schools without water or schools that host the largest numbers of displaced students.

Regarding activities, a minimum common responses package has been developed to ensure schools can continue their operation. The package consists of:

  • provision of water to schools
  • school feeding
  • provision of emergency teaching and learning materials
  • support to schools to ensure daily attendance tracking
  • establishment of temporary classrooms in schools hosting displaced students

Schools hosting large numbers of displaced students might benefit from temporary classrooms with water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. Moreover, in some cases, psycho-social support to teachers and measures to improve their retention will be implemented. Additional strategies that remain to be discussed include strategies for teacher retention and to compensate for lost school time.


In response to the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and Save the Children’s request, Annelies Ollieuz (Senior Coordinator) and Dominik Koeppl (Information Manager) deployed mid-January 2016, for 3 and 6 weeks respectively. They focused on revitalizing and formalizing the Cluster at national and sub-national level, and on enhancing coordination between partners. They also took the opportunity to develop the implementation strategy in line with the 2016 Humanitarian Requirements Document, agreeing on geographical and activity prioritisation, and a common response package. Gøril Tomren (RRT Cluster Coordinator) deployed in early February for 6 weeks, and is taking forward the implementation strategy.

Education Cluster Contact List

Do not hesitate to contact the Education Cluster Unit, contact details available here.

Updated on 29 February 2016

*Ethiopia photograph credits: © Annelies Ollieuz / Global Education Cluster





One Response to “Ethiopia”

  1. Lilly Omondi says:

    Who are the current cluster leads in Ethiopia?

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