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Analytical summary - Social determinants

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Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa, with a population of 84 million and an annual growth rate of 2.6%.[1] The country is committed to open, transparent and democratic governance that respects the rights of all of its citizens, as enshrined in the constitution. The Ethiopian economy largely depends on its agricultural sector, which employs 83.6% of the labour force and is responsible for 42% of gross domestic product and 83.1% of exports.[2]

Exports of agricultural commodities are predominantly coffee and oil seed. The year 2010 marked the end of the Plan for Accelerated and Sustainable Development to End Poverty (PASDEP),[3] which gave attention to poverty-related health programme targets.

Ethiopia has achieved strong economic development in all sectors in the last 5 years of PASDEP (see figure). It registered an average annual gross domestic product growth of 11%, which is unparalleled by other countries of a similar level of development. The registered economic development was not only fast and sustainable but was also broad based and benefited all sectors of the community. This resulted in the percentage of the population below the poverty line significantly decreasing from 39% to 29.2% between 2005 and 2010 and improved records in various aspects of development outputs and outcomes (see figure).

Trend in development output and outcome indicators, 2005 and 2010[3]

Building on the success and lessons learnt from PASDEP, Ethiopia has recently developed a 5-year six-pillar Growth and Transformation Plan (2011–2015)[4] to meet the country’s vision of realizing a participatory democratic system, institutionalizing good governance and ensuring social and economic justice for all, eradicating poverty and reaching middle-income status by 2025.

The country follows an agricultural development-led industrialization strategy with the goal of bringing about transformation of its economy by emphasizing that growth in agriculture leads to growth in other sectors of the economy.

Despite major progress, Ethiopia has continued to experience emergencies and disasters. Drought has been the major impediment to the country's desired progress in development. The magnitude, frequency and effects of drought have increased since the mid-1970s. For instance, between 1990 and 2005, on average 6.3 million people required food assistance each year, amounting to over 654 000 tonnes annually.

In conclusion, with:

  • an aggressive domestic resource mobilization strategy to finance the Growth and Transformation Plan
  • good governance
  • innovative strategies to address development bottlenecks
  • the enhanced role of the private sector in the implementation of the Plan

Ethiopia has great potential to meet its Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and become a middle-income country by 2025.


  1. Central Statistics Agency, 2011
  2. Government of Ethiopia, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, 2008–2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty (2005/06–2009/10). Plan for Urban Development and Urban Good Governance (pdf 1.32Mb). Addis Ababa, Government of Ethiopia, Ministry of Works and Urban Development, 2007
  4. Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) 2010/11–2014/15. Draft (1.05Mb). Addis Ababa, Government of Ethiopia, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, 2010