UNFPA's assistance to Ethiopia began in 1973 and has since implemented six five-year programme cycles. In the last decade, the Government of Ethiopia has made significant progress towards achieving the MDGs. Apart from the overall decline in poverty, positive gains have been made in terms of education, health and reducing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. The Government is putting extra effort in accelerating progress towards the achievement of those MDGs targets that are slightly off-track (Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, Maternal Health and Environmental Sustainability) which is reinforced through the five year ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP - 2011-2015).
The current situation in Ethiopia depicts a population growth rate of 2.6% per annum; total fertility rate of 4.8 births per woman; contraceptive prevalence of 30%; skilled birth attendance of 16%; HIV prevalence rate of 1.4% (with significant variation among different population groups and regions); maternal mortality ratio of 676 per 100,000 live births; gender inequality and high incidences of gender based violence.

7th Country Programme

Currently UNFPA is implementing its 7th Country Programme (2012-2015) aligned to the global Strategic Plan (2008-2013), the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2012-2015 and national priorities as reflected in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). The main thrust of the   7th Country Programme is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the people of Ethiopia, especially women and young people, through promoting universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. In particular, the programme seeks to
Improve maternal health through provision of information and services on EMNoC, skilled human resources for maternal health and redressing the unmet need for family planning;
Address the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents and youth;

Address gender inequality with a special focus on gender based violence; and ensure better understanding of population dynamics through adopting a human rights based approach.

The programme is moving towards ensuring synergy between programme components under the two globally constituted clusters (the Women's Reproductive Health and Adolescent and Youth) and promotes strategic partnerships with the government, UN Agencies, donors and civil society organizations. To maximize and sustain impact, the country programme is implemented in six selected regions and 84 districts with a focus on scaling up specific interventions and delivering on a small number of strategic and measurable outputs. UNFPA Ethiopia is one of the largest country offices in the Africa region both in terms of staff, resource and programme with an estimated annual budget of $22 million.

UNFPA's engagement in UN Delivering as One Initiatives

UNFPA Ethiopia is an active member of the UNCT and different inter-agency and development platforms. The CO has been supporting the UN efforts to harmonize and re-design management processes and business practices in tune with the Delivering as One mechanism. The establishment of One UN fund, the development of a joint UN resource mobilization strategy and the increased joint programming opportunities in UNDAF III are providing the CO with further opportunities for leveraging partnership and negotiating increased funding for ICPD priorities. The CO's co-lead position in the Joint Gender Flagship Programme has borne fruits in terms of harmonization of the UN's efforts to support the national gender plan.

Key focus areas and achievements

UNFPA provides technical and financial support towards the reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality through promoting increased utilization of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. This is achieved through supporting the government in developing policies, guidelines and strategies on reproductive health; capacity building of health service providers in clinical and emergency obstetric and neonatal care (EmONC); procurement and distribution of EmONC drugs, supplies and equipment; and service provision. UNFPA is a key player in Reproductive Health Commodity Security and its considerable contribution has resulted in increased rate of contraceptive prevalence and aversion of stock- out in the country. One of the CO's flagship programme - the MSc programme on Integrated Emergency Surgery and Obstetrics for mid-level health professionals which is being undertaken in six universities has started bearing fruit in redressing the critical shortage of skilled human resources in the health sector.

These key milestones were complemented by other interventions.  These include support to 23 Midwifery institutions in the country with the capacity of producing 1,400 nurse midwives per year and training of health extension workers and IEC/BCC interventions on maternal health issues. As part of its institutional capacity building efforts in the health sector to address maternal health, the CO has procured medical equipment, teaching materials and simulators to federal and regional health bureaus. Furthermore, the CO supported various studies, assessments and the undertaking of the National EmONC survey - the first of its kind in the country - which facilitated identification of gaps in emergency obstetric care. The CO also effectively responded to humanitarian needs of communities affected by disasters, including interventions in RH, HIV and GBV prevention, within the framework of the national disaster risk prevention and management.

UNFPA also made significant achievements in addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescent and young people (including HIV prevention). The SRH programme provides young people with information on SRH including STIs and HIV through peer-to-peer education, setting up of youth corners in health facilities and strengthening capacity of health service providers to cater for the special health needs of young people. Among others, special attention has been accorded to commercial sex workers, university students and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs). Strategic support was also provided for the development of national strategies including the national Strategic Plan for intensifying Multi-sectoral HIV/AIDS Response in Ethiopia (SPM II- 2009 - 2014).

UNFPA also contributed to building national capacity to mainstream gender into sector planning. More substantively, it supported community based programmes to empower women and girls focusing in areas of child marriage, FGM/C and other forms of gender based violence. The Country Office mobilized significant resources from various development partners to address gender equality and women empowerment objectives through support to integrated programmes in reproductive health, literacy and livelihood, in Violence against Women, Child Marriage and FGM/C. The CO also played a significant role in strengthening the capacity of national and regional gender machineries through technical and financial support; and advocacy activities to prevent Gender Based Violence, including harmful traditional practices.

Substantial support was also extended to the 2007 Census, 2011 EDHS, national wide inter-censal-survey, research and in-depth analysis on various ICPD issues, Integrated Management Information System, capacity building in the collection analysis and discriminations, advocacy and policy dialogue on demographic dividend as well as strengthening the capacity of government institutions to integrate population and development issues into national frameworks and strategies.

The CO recognizes the centrality of population issues in national development and has played a key role in the National ICPD Beyond 2014 Review and made major contributions in the Post 2015 Development Agenda consultations to reflect this reality.