Country background

Ethiopia is the most populous country in the Horn of Africa with majority (84%) of the Ethiopian population lives in the rural areas, and agriculture is the main source of livelihood. The country’s economy is highly dependent upon rain-fed, low input low output subsistence agriculture. About 55% of all smallholders, nevertheless, operate on one hectare or less.



Total Population


Total land area

51.3M Ha

Arable land

12M ha

Cultivated land

Agriculture contributes about 41% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Smallholder agriculture accounts for approximately 95% of agricultural GDP and 85% of employment. The Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (AGDP) is dominated by cereals (70%) with livestock accounting for about 28% despite the enormity of the livestock resources. Recent study by FAO/IGAD LPI showed that livestock contribution to the agricultural GDP is close to 45%. Livestock numbers in the country are estimated at : 


47 million


26 million


22 million


7 million


Most of the livestock especially Equines found in the highlands whereas all the camels are found in the drylands.
Ethiopia has a huge potential for irrigation estimated at 3.7 million hectares with 2.9 million hectares being suitable for medium and large scale irrigation. Currently only 3-5% of the potential is believed to be realized largely by small scale irrigation. The natural resources which include soil and water are either being rapidly degraded or have not been put to adequate use. It is reported that 50% of the land resources is degraded (UNDAF 2011). Soil nutrient depletion is a principal cause for the low agricultural productivity and production and hence food insecurity. It is estimated that the country losses about 1.5-2 billion tons of top soil every year to water and wind erosion. The poor farming practices in the highlands, deforestation, and poor livestock management and the resultant overgrazing are the prime factors for degradation.
The country’s forest cover has now (2009/10) reached 8.8 million ha in 2009/10. The Federal Government of Ethiopia is addressing the issue of natural resource management through the Sustainable Land Management initiative, which hinges on arresting and reversing the long term deterioration in soil fertility, and soil erosion through the watershed rehabilitation. It specifically aims to restore, sustain and enhance productivity of land and water resources while maintaining bio-diversity.
National IDDRSI Coordination Mechanism

Under the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries and Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource there is a platform, which is sectoral working group b/n the government and the DPs: Known as RED&FS –SWG.

The REFDFS-SWG is headed by the EX-COM which is chaired by the respective minister and co-chaired by selected two DPs. Under the REDFS-SWG there are technical committees (TCs about 35- 40 members) chaired by the respective state Minister of Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries.

Under the TC there are various Task forces (20 -25 members) among which the Pastoral task force is the one responsible to coordinate the drought resilience initiatives in the pastoral areas of the country. The TF is chaired by the Director of pastoral affairs development Directorate. The other platform the coordination and oversighting is the steering committees which are established at all levels from national-regional to district levels).

Under the Ministry of livestock and fisheries there are two DRIs PCUs, which are responsible for the overall coordination and implementation of DR projects in the country. For the purpose of convenience, the ministry has established two DR PCUs: one for the AfDB supported project (DRSLP I and II including the KfW supported project) and second for the WB supported project (RPLRP) acooperation supported project.  Likewise, there are DRIs for DRSLP I II and the RPLRP PCUs at regional and wereda levels including Mobile support team at zonal level

Production and Productivity

Cereal production and productivity have increased over the years. The increase is a result of primarily due to increase in the area under cultivation, and the increased use of inputs- mainly fertilizers and improved seeds. Total area under major food crops in 2009/10 was estimated to be about 11.25 million hectares with a total production of 19.1 million tons. This translates into a per capita grain production of 2.16 quintals which supplies the daily calorie requirement of 2100 kilo calories per adult per day. Overall there is a significant increase in the production of improved seeds; however, use of improved inputs, particularly improved seeds, is still very low. The combined trend of increased productivity and the current low use of inputs demonstrates the huge potential for increasing production of food grain crops, with the current effort sustained.

Despite the huge numbers livestock productivity, there is still much to be desired. The average daily milk yield of a local cow is estimated to be only 1.5 litreswith average annual production of about 213 litres. A camel is estimated to milk a daily average of 4.4 litres (CAADP-Ethiopia Study 2009). Per capita consumption of milk is estimated at 23(CAADP Ethiopia Study, 2009) litres per year. Meat production is no different as production per cattle per year is estimated to be only 8.5kg; and about 3 kg per sheep or goat per year. The per capita consumption of all meat is estimated at7.6 kg.  

Poverty, Hunger, and Malnutrition

Ethiopia’s annual per capita income is USD 170 (PIF 2010-2020). 65% of the population is considered food secure; 21% mildly food insecure; 13% moderately food insecure and 1% being considered severely food insecure (UNDAF 2012-2015). One third (30%) of Ethiopia’s population live below the national poverty line of USD 1.25 per capita per day, with most rural households earning less than USD 0.50 per capita per day. Overall poverty has declined to 29.2% in 2009/10 from the high of   50% in 2000 with marked differences between urban and rural areas.

The food poverty head count index has dropped from 38% in 2004/5 to 28.2% in 2009/10. Poverty and food insecurity are disproportionately biased against female headed households. According to the UNDAF (2010) high malnutrition rates exist especially among children less than five years of age-prevalence in 2010 was recorded as stunting (38 %); underweight (34 %); and wastage (11%). Ethiopia’s overall GDP grew at average of 11% per annum from 2005/6 to 2009/10,  during PASDEP. 

In 2009/10 the share of agriculture in real GDP declined from 43% in 2004/05 to 41.6%. Agriculture still remains the major source of occupation (83%) of the population and the biggest (90%) source of export earnings. Its decisive role in poverty alleviation cannot be emphasized more.


Pastoral areas are characterized by:
•    Pastoralism main production system
•    Mobility of the people with livestock for searching of water and feed
•    Huge cross border socioeconomic interaction
•     Strong traditional institutions for grazing land and water points and conflict management
•    huge rivers for irrigation development / opportunity for diversification of livelihoods                 ( Awash, Wabi Shebelle, Genale Dawa,  Omo etc)

•    Diversified agro-ecology conducive for livestock /crop development
•    Economic contribution of PAPs: livestock, geothermal, eco-tourism is significant
•    Increased demand for livestock products with geographic proximity to MENA markets

In the arid and semi-arid areas (pastoral areas) of the country the following disaster are the common features:

•    Drought
•    Disease outbreaks (human and livestock) and plant pests
•    Flood
•    Conflict

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