Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is Ethiopia's capital and the largest city in the country with a population of 2.8 million. Addis Ababa is geographically in the center of Ethiopia situated on a high plateau surrounded by hills and mountains; Addis Ababa is 8,000 feet above sea level.

Ethiopia Addis Ababa

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Orthodox Christian

The Weather

  • Open-air markets throughout Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa are crowded, busy places. Ethiopia Women Selling Produce
  • These children, in grades eight through 10, attend after-school tutoring classes at their Compassion-assisted child development center. Ethiopia Children Outside Center
  • In recent years, Ethiopia has experienced high inflation rates – 33 percent in 2011 – making it difficult for the poor to afford basic grains to feed their families. Ethiopia People With Bags of Grain
  • The Compassion curriculum helps child development center tutors feel confident that they are giving children the lessons they need. Ethiopia Children in the Classroom
  • The Compassion curriculum helps child development center tutors feel confident that they are giving children the lessons they need. Ethiopia Girls at the Project Entrance
  • It is not unusual to see livestock even in the center of busy, modern Addis Ababa. Ethiopia Man Herding Goats

Overview: Addis Ababa

With a population of about 3.3 million people, Addis Ababa sits 8,000 feet above sea level. Covering about 90 square miles, it is the highest city in Africa and enjoys a temperate climate year-round.

The political, economic and cultural hub of the country, Addis Ababa is home to numerous ethnic groups. The largest are the Amhara, Oromo, Gurage and Tigray people. The most common language spoken throughout the capital city is Amharic, which is also the official language of Ethiopia.

Among the people of Addis Ababa, more than 80 percent are Orthodox Christians. The rest of the area’s residents are Muslims or Protestant Christians.

Founded by Emperor Menilik in 1889 as the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is located in the geographic center of the country. The city’s name, chosen by the emperor’s wife, means “New Flower.”

After its founding and as the population increased, Addis Ababa experienced shortages of firewood, which the people needed to survive in the cool mountain climate. To solve the problem, in 1905, the city imported several varieties of fast-growing eucalyptus trees from Australia. Today, eucalyptus trees are common not only in the capital city but throughout the countryside.


Culture Corner

Ethiopia Culture


Try this traditional Ethiopian lentil stew.


  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger root
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Place onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender and puree.

Add a little water if needed. Sauté onion puree in a large saucepan over medium heat until excess moisture evaporates and the onion loses its raw aroma — about 5 to 10 minutes.

Be careful not to allow the mixture to burn. Add oil, mix with the puree and sauté. Add turmeric, paprika and cayenne pepper. Stir rapidly for about 10 minutes. Add lentils and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils are cooked through, adding water as needed — about 30 to 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.


Life in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s largest city. The capital is situated in the geographic center of the country, on a high plateau surrounded by hills and mountains. At 8,000 feet in elevation, Addis Ababa is the highest city in Africa. The climate is temperate year-round.

Addis Ababa is a picture of contrasts. Next to gleaming skyscrapers are slum neighborhoods of tin shacks, and dirt roads run adjacent to city highways. Although most residents have access to clean water and electricity, adequate sanitation is sorely lacking in slum areas.

Addis Ababa is a melting pot of Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups. Amharic, the country’s official language, is most widely spoken in the city. The majority of people practice Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity; Islam is the second-most practiced religion.

Children at Home

As in most urban centers of developing countries, Addis Ababa’s impoverished people live in sprawling, squalid slums in conditions of great suffering and need. Homes are fragile, makeshift dwellings made of whatever scrap materials can be found. Typically, there are no amenities in these slums, such as electricity, public sanitation, or running water.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Ethiopia

As with any poor urban center, many people migrate to Addis Ababa from the country’s rural areas in search of jobs and a better way of life. However, they typically find only disappointment and worse poverty than they endured in the countryside. According to a 2007 national census, nearly all homes in Addis Ababa have access to safe drinking water, but more than 14 percent had no access to adequate toilet facilities. The lack of sanitary conditions in the city slums poses a health hazard, especially for children. In addition to widespread unemployment and underemployment, this area battles an elevated infant mortality rate, high rates of inflation, and the rapidly rising cost of fuel.

Local Needs and Challenges

As in most cities in developing countries, the poor of Addis Ababa live in destitution, in crowded slum neighborhoods. Employment is scarce, and people work at whatever menial jobs they can find. Homes are fragile, makeshift dwellings that often must accommodate large families. These neighborhoods have inadequate public services, and the lack of drainage and sanitation systems poses a serious health risk to children. Schools are typically undersupplied and overcrowded, with more than 50 students per teacher.


Schools and Education Education in Ethiopia

Schools in Addis Ababa have replaced the traditional shift system, during which children attended school for half-days in either the morning or the afternoon, with a full-day system. For all enrolled children, the school day now starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Children earn a completion certificate after they finish the 10th grade. Those going on to college attend two more years of preparatory classes, after which they take a university entrance examination. Sadly, as throughout the rest of the country, classes in Addis Ababa are overcrowded, with an average of 56 students per teacher.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Compassion serves children in Addis Ababa through local church-based child development centers. These centers are havens of love and learning for registered children. Here, children receive nutritious meals, hygiene training and tutoring. They are also encouraged to develop their talents and abilities. Most important, children learn about the love of God and gift of salvation in Christ.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion believes that God’s mandate to care for the poor was given to the church. That’s why in Ethiopia, as in every country where we minister, Compassion serves primarily as an instrument of support and empowerment for local churches. Our goal is to enable churches to be what God meant for them to be in serving their communities’ people in need.

Local church staff members intimately understand the needs of the children in their communities. They know the best ways to meet those needs. In fact, in many communities where churches operate our program, people don’t know the name “Compassion.” What they see is a caring, dynamic ministry of the local church for their children.

How Compassion Works in Ethiopia Compassion in Ethiopia

Compassion's work in Ethiopia began in 1993. Currently, more than 85,200 children participate in 373 child development centers.

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide Ethiopia’s children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Partnership Facilitators are an important link between Compassion and the individual church partners that implement our program. In Ethiopia, each Partnership Facilitator oversees several local churches that operate Compassion-assisted child development centers.

Facilitators play a critical role in empowering local church partners to be the best they can be at meeting the needs of their communities’ children. Ethiopians themselves, Partnership Facilitators understand the local reality of the churches they serve and are best able to represent the churches’ needs and challenges to the national Compassion office.

Ethiopia’s Partnership Facilitators are a team of workers selflessly dedicated to their demanding jobs. And they have a passion for seeing their country’s children in need released from poverty, in Jesus’ name.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray that parents in the urban areas will find adequate employment to care for their children.
  • Pray for the health of children who live in unsanitary conditions in Addis Ababa slums.
  • Pray that children will stay in school and excel in their education.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.