In Southern Ethiopia
Geography & Climate
Ethiopia is divided into nine regional states based on the locations of the dominant ethnic groups. The state located in the southwest is named “Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples,” reflecting the region’s wide ethnic diversity.
This state covers 10 percent of the country and is home to about a fifth of Ethiopia’s total population. It is the country’s most rural state with almost 90 percent of its people living in the countryside.
Rain falls year-round in this region, where annual precipitation can reach 80 inches.
Small-scale agriculture is the economic spine of the southern region. More than 40 percent of Ethiopia’s coffee, the country’s primary export, is grown here.
Children at Home
Most rural families in Ethiopia’s southern region live in traditional round or rectangular huts, made of materials readily available in the local environment.
Homes typically have walls made of wood, with thatched roofs.
Most homes have no electricity, running water, and toilet facilities.
Huts are being replaced with more solid concrete homes in some areas.
Most households in the region have four to five family members.
Issues and Concerns
- The southern region is plagued by food insecurity.
- In some areas, most families are able to produce enough food to meet their needs for only six months out of the year.
- The infant mortality rate here is higher than the national average.
- Lack of access to safe water is a problem in this region. The government has made addressing the issue a priority; however, many people still lack this basic necessity.
Local Needs and Challenges
Frequent food shortages mean chronic malnutrition for more than a quarter of the region’s children. Lack of access to safe water also is a widespread problem.
Only 63 percent of primary school-age and 11 percent of secondary-age children attend school.
Many children drop out of school to work. Across the region, more than half of children ages 12 to 14 work to help support their families.
Schools and Education
- The school year in the southern region begins in September and ends in June.
- Most primary schools here have two daily four-hour shifts, with half the enrolled children attending in the morning and half in the afternoon.
- Classes are overcrowded, with up to 75 students per teacher.
- Only a little more than half of men and under a quarter of women are able to read or write.
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 Compassion child development centers in Ethiopia’s southern region, children receive the help and learning opportunities they need to grow and thrive.
Along with nutritious meals for proper physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy.
They are encouraged to stay in school, and tutoring makes up for education deficiencies.
Most important, they learn how much they are loved and valued by God.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing help and hope to southern Ethiopia’s children in need, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- unconditional love and acceptance
- assistance and learning opportunities that motivate them to dream big
- the fees, supplies and uniforms required to attend school, as well as the extra tutoring children need to excel academically. Compassion Ethiopia reports that most of the children in this region are doing well in school.
- regular Bible classes and worship services to positively influence children’s behavior and give them the hope that a life in Christ provides