Ethiopia has faced numerous challenges in recent decades, including sporadic conflict, recurrent drought, and famine. These crises have greatly affected agriculture and quality of life. They have also shaped our funding priorities. 

Safe and sufficient access to food

Improving agriculture and nutrition in Ethiopia has been an ongoing IDRC priority. In the 1970s, we supported Ethiopian scientists’ efforts to breed hardier, higher-yielding varieties of sorghum that were adapted to high altitudes. Research also focused on protecting sorghum from the parasitic weed striga, which led to the development of a drought- and striga-resistant variety.

We also provided pioneering support to an African initiative that worked in five East African countries to preserve scarce land and water resources. In Ethiopia, this resulted in more effective pest-control strategies, better quality water, and new food and cash crops.

More recently, research has introduced more nutritious, higher-yielding chickpea varieties and identified better production techniques. This has resulted in yields exceeding those of traditional varieties by 60–90%. The healthier legumes and nutrition education have helped children gain weight, a key indicator of nutrition. 

Improved health and well-being

Research to identify how to reduce anemia in preschool children found that food cooked in iron pots could boost their iron intake. These findings led the World Food Programme to explore the use of iron pots as a sustainable strategy to reduce iron deficiency in emergency and refugee situations.

Our support for health research led to the creation of a master’s program in public health at Addis Ababa University, with the collaboration of Canada’s McGill University. The program is still going strong. Past graduates have found senior posts within the Ministry of Health and district health offices.

Total IDRC Support

108 activities worth CA$30 million since 1972

DFID/J.Lea

Our support is helping

  • address youth employment in micro- and small-businesses
  • empower the rural poor to better manage natural resources for greater food and income security
  • promote the use of edible legume seeds — like chickpeas, lentils, and faba beans — for alternate sources of protein, income, and food security
  • strengthen knowledge-sharing between scientists and policymakers in Kenya and Ethiopia 
  • build research capacities within Ethiopian policy research think tanks 

Projects