Churches established in the Oromia region of Ethiopia are about one-third Orthodox Christian Churches, about 18 percent of the population are Protestant Christians, and nearly half of the population practices Islam - unlike other regions in Ethiopia where Christianity is more wide-spread. Churches in Oromia partner with Compassion to meet the needs of their local communities, and serve people in need.

Ethiopia Oromia

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Orthodox Christian

The Weather

  • This open-air market in Nazareth, Oromia’s capital city, hums with activity. Ethiopia Women Selling Produce
  • This boy colors a picture depicting the Bible story that he has just learned at his Compassion-assisted child development center. Ethiopia Boy Coloring a Picture
  • A children’s choir from one Compassion center performs a number accompanied by hand actions. Ethiopia Girls Choir Performing
  • Prayer is an important and regular part of the Compassion program. Ethiopia Children Praying
  • Children have the opportunity to play, socialize, and just be kids at their Compassion centers. Ethiopia Boy on the Slide
  • The Compassion curriculum helps center tutors feel confident that they are providing children the learning opportunities that they need. Ethiopia Children in Class

Overview: Oromia

One of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based regions, Oromia stretches in an arc from the country’s western border to the southwestern corner. It is Ethiopia’s largest state in area, and with 27 million people, it is also the largest in population. The primary ethnic group in this state is the Oromo people, and their language — Oromo — is one of Ethiopia’s primary idioms.

More than 90 percent of people in the Oromia region live in the rural areas and are employed as small-scale farmers. Coffee is the main cash crop in this region, which produces at least half of all coffee grown in Ethiopia.

Unlike other regions in Ethiopia, nearly half the people in the Oromia region follow Islam. About one-third are Orthodox Christians, with Protestant Christians making up about 18 percent of the population.

Paved roads in Ethiopia are rare. Of the country’s 22,661 miles of road, only about a fifth are paved, and the overall condition of the road network is poor. Likewise, the country’s telecommunications infrastructure is underdeveloped. Only about five people in 100 have landline or cellular telephones, and Internet usage is even more limited. Since the late 1990s the Ethiopian government has worked to expand telecommunications throughout the country.


Culture Corner


Try this simple traditional Ethiopian bread for breakfast.


  • 1 ½ cups wheat flour
  • ½ cup barley flour
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups water (or more)


Place the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Mix well. Add a small amount of water and blend by hand. Gradually add water, kneading dough until it is smooth and elastic.

In a nonstick medium skillet, place the dough. Flatten it out to cover the bottom of the pan. Using a fork, make several small holes. Cook over low heat on both sides until golden and crusty.

Melt the butter separately. Mix in chili pepper, cardamom, black pepper and salt. Remove the pan-baked bread from the heat, cut it in very small pieces. Toss the melted spiced butter and bread pieces together until well coated. Serve hot.


Life in Oromia

Oromia is the largest of Ethiopia’s nine regional states in both area and population. It is home to one of the two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo, who have their own language and comprise more than one-third of the country’s total population. Almost half of the people follow Islam. However, a growing, dynamic evangelical movement comprises about 18 percent of the state’s population.

Most Oromo work as small-scale farmers in the state’s rural areas, growing a variety of crops, including coffee. Families in Oromia typically live in small, simple homes made of wood, with thatched or corrugated metal roofs. Few homes have access to electricity, and nearly 40 percent have no toilet facilities. Access to safe water is also a widespread problem for Oromia families.

Children at Home

Homes of the Oromia region’s rural families are simple, sparsely furnished wooden buildings that vary between circular and rectangular styles. To reduce traveling distance, homes are generally scattered across the countryside to be near farm plots. Roofs are mostly thatched, but rural households are increasingly opting for corrugated-metal coverings.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Ethiopia

A lack of access to clean, abundant water in the countryside is a primary concern in the Oromia region. While more than 90 percent of the region’s urban dwellers have ready access to safe water, less than one-quarter of those in the countryside have the same advantage. This lack is especially hazardous to the health of children, who are vulnerable to such water-borne diseases as bacterial diarrhea, which can prove deadly.

Unemployment is another issue, with almost 20 percent of the region’s adults unable to find work. Many more face underemployment and the inability to meet their children’s most basic needs.

Also, this region sorely lacks health care resources. The ratio of health professionals and facilities to the number of people is low even in comparison with other impoverished areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children in Oromia face many daunting challenges. Among primary school-age children, only 60 percent are in school, and among those of secondary age, only 13 percent attend school. Statewide, only 55 percent of males and 36 percent of females older than 10 can read and write. Many children drop out of school to work. Early marriage and teen pregnancy are also common in Oromia, where about 13 percent of girls ages 15 to 19 have already had their first child.


Schools and Education Education in Ethiopia

The education situation in the Oromia region has greatly improved over the past 15 years. Children have the opportunity to acquire not only a formal education but also to attend vocational schools. Nearly all primary-age children now attend school, and the enrollment rate for secondary education has increased from about 6 percent to nearly 40 percent.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Church-based Compassion child development centers provide assisted children in Ethiopia’s Oromia region with the resources and learning opportunities they need to overcome poverty. Medical attention, extra nutrition, academic tutoring, and vocational training help ensure that they will grow into healthy, happy, responsible adults. Most important, the children have the opportunity to 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 families who depend on agriculture will have abundant harvests.
  • Pray for the health of children who don’t have access to safe water.
  • 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.