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© VSO/Paul James Driscoll


VSO has been working in Ethiopia since 1995, changing lives through our work in health, education and with young people.

Our work is focused on impoverished and marginalized people living mainly in emerging regions of the country where access to basic social services is very low compared to other regions of the country.

Health projects in Ethiopia

VSO volunteers are working to improve neonatal, maternal and child health. 33,321 newborn babies, pregnant women and sick children have been able to access quality health services through:

  • 16 Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs)
  • 4 Paedeatric High Dependency Units (PHDUs)
  • 1 Maternity Waiting Home (MWH)

As a result of the newly-established pediatric high dependency units, hospital stay time has been reduced from an average of 12-17 days to just 5 days.

Suhul Hospital (Shire) NICU inauguration with the participation of RHB Representative

Suhul Hospital (Shire) NICU inauguration with the participation of Regional Health Bureau Representative

Capacity building project in Tigray and SNNP regions

Working to improve neonatal, maternal and child health in 11 communities towards the realisation of Health Sector Development Plan Four (HSDP-IV).

  • Improving the maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) services
  • Improving the implementation of Health Management Information System (HMIS) in selected organisations
  • Improved implementation of Ethiopian Hospital Management Initiative (EHMI) for better accountability and governance

Newborn and child health project in Benishagul Gumuz

  • Reducing neonatal and child mortality in two hospitals.
  • Improving access to quality health care services by upgrading the skills and practices of nurses and other medical staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) and High Dependency Units (HDUs)
  • Strengthening the support structure within the community for the health care need of mothers, newborn children and children under 17.

Beneficiaries of this project are spread across a two hospital catchment area of 441 rural and 34 urban villages with a total population of 964,645 people. We expect to directly benefit:

  • 2,500 new born children,
  • 1,460 critically ill children under the age of 17 and
  • 10,000 expectant mothers.

Indirectly, we expect to reach:

  • 146 health workers and other relevant administration and management staff in the hospitals 
  • 147,301 community members through tailored information, education and communications activities.

The expected outcomes of the project are:

  • Reduced newborn mortality rate by 50% and child mortality by 40% in the two targeted hospitals
  • Improved quality of care in line with best practices and international protocols and empowered nursing staff that provide patient-centred care.
  • Increased health-seeking behaviour by the community and reduced maternal, new-born and child mortality in the target region

Reducing maternal and neonatal mortality in the Hadiya and Gurage zones

We’re improving the services for pregnant women and their children, especially those at high-risk, at the obstetrics and gynaecology department through volunteer’s coaching and training.

We’re also supervising, monitoring and evaluating the new Maternal Waiting Home (MWH) at Butajira Hospital.

As well as improving outcomes for patients, we’re putting in place protocols and procedures to ensure consistent care and proper handling of maternal emergencies.

School children learning inside a model classroom in Finote Selam, Ethiopia © VSO/Ben Langdon Photography

School children learning inside a model classroom in Finote Selam, Ethiopia

Education projects in Ethiopia

Our work in education is focussed on reaching pre-primary and primary age children in the most underserved areas.

We've seen considerable change in terms of enhancing inclusion, quality and equity of education services.

For instance, we've been supporting Abi Abi College of Teachers Education to develop culturally appropriate suppllementary material which have been distributed to more than 12 primary schools in Holla Tembein district of the Tigray region.

In addition, teachers have been trained on the use of the new reading materials and how to create a rich reading environment for the children.

Evaluation of this project indicates that there has been an improvement in learning outcomes.

Youth volunteering in Ethiopia with ICS

Since 2011, VSO has worked with International Citizen Service (ICS) programme to enable young volunteers from the UK and Ethiopia to work side by side. Recently ICS  youth volunteers in Ethiopia have been working on implementing two projects in four regions. 

Youth employment and enterprise

Empowering disadvantaged young people from rural and urban areas by improving self-employment and livelihood opportunities through education; promoting green jobs through green area development, tree planting and urban solid waste disposal; and developing marketable skills through the creation of a youth-led enterprise.

Strengthening civil society through active youth participation

Working with 120 national youth volunteers to engage them in their community and country’s development. 

Contact us

Interested in finding out more about our work in Ethiopia? We’d love to hear from you.

Email the VSO Ethiopia team

Postal: PO Box 23531, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Location: Bole Sub city Woreda 4, House no 414
(Close to St Gabriel Hospital or Rift Valley University 22 campus)
Tel: (+251)11 6 18 74 45/ 6 62 07 37
Fax: (+251) 11 618 7451

Interested in volunteering in Ethiopia?

Find out more and see volunteer roles available.

Volunteer in Ethiopia