In Ethiopia’s Amhara Region
Geography & Climate
- Amhara lies in northwestern Ethiopia and is the country’s third largest state in square miles.
- It covers approximately 13 percent of Ethiopia’s total area and is home to the Amhara ethnic group.
- The Amhara region has a diverse landscape. Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile River, is located here, as is the country’s highest point, Ras Dashan Peak, rising to 15,157 feet.
- Other popular tourist attractions in the region include the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the emperors’ palaces at Gondar, and the ancient monasteries of Bahir Dar.
Most Amhara residents are engaged in small-scale agriculture. With the region’s abundant rainfall, farmers produce a variety of grains, oilseeds and coffee.
Raising cattle is also an important regional enterprise.
Many families earn a living by fishing in Lake Tana, the country’s largest, which covers 1,418 square miles.
Nearly 20 percent of the people in the Amhara region fall into Ethiopia’s level of greatest poverty and need.
More than 15 percent of the region’s adults are unemployed.
Children at Home
In the Amhara region, traditional huts with thatched roofs are giving way to more solid structures with sturdier tin roofs.
Typically rural homes have few furnishings or amenities such as electricity, running water or sanitation facilities.
Rural households average four members, and those in the urban centers typically include three family members.
Issues and Concerns
- Less than 20 percent of the population in the Amhara region’s countryside has access to safe water. Many people, especially young children, are at great risk for waterborne diseases.
- The lack of food because of frequent drought is another regional issue. However, the government is making strides in solving this problem by introducing modern irrigation methods.
- Lake Tana and the many rivers in the region provide great potential and promise for irrigation improvements.
Local Needs and Challenges
Low school attendance rates
Only 68 percent of primary-age children and 12 percent of secondary-age children attend school.
Low school attendance plays a major role in the region’s dismal literacy rate. Fewer than half of the region’s people 10 years and older can read and write.
The reason most children drop out of school is to work.
Children commonly suffer from a high rate of malnutrition, and more than one-third are underweight.
Schools and Education
- The school year in the Amhara region, as throughout Ethiopia, begins in September and ends in June.
- Primary education is divided into two four-year cycles: grades 1–4 and grades 5–8. Secondary school includes two two-year cycles: grades 9–10 and grades 11–12.
- Grades 1–10 are considered a basic education, while the final two years would prepare students for college.
Compassion Ethiopia works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
At the Compassion child development centers in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, children are receiving the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ.
Along with nutritious meals for proper physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy.
Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing help and hope to children in need in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, especially in the city of Bihar Dar, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- training in good hygiene and sanitation practices. Centers also have sanitary toilets and showers for the children.
- extra interventions through Compassion’s Highly Vulnerable Children (HVC) program for orphaned children and others living in especially dire circumstances
- spiritual nurture for children and caregivers. This is especially important in the Amhara region, where evangelical churches are typically viewed with suspicion and families are sometimes discriminated against just for registering their children in the church-based Compassion program.