Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world and remains challenged by the need to create economic opportunities for its fast-growing population. Community conflicts and extreme climate conditions have resulted in large scale forced internal displacement (more than 3 million persons displaced in 2019). Over last years, due to political instability and escalating conflicts in neighbouring countries (e.g. Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan) hundred thousands refugees have taken refuge in Ethiopia.

Open-door policy for refugees

Ethiopia is a country of destination, transit and origin for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and hosts one of the largest refugee population in Africa. As of September 2020, 792,030 refugees have been registered by UNHCR, nearly half of them coming from South Sudan. Yet, many refugees have been living in Ethiopia for protracted periods and, in some cases, for over twenty years.

Ethiopia maintains an open-door policy for refugee inflows into the country and allows humanitarian access and protection to those seeking asylum in its territory.

Nearly 99% of refugees are required to live in camps or settlements with limited job and livelihood opportunities. Some refugees only are permitted to reside in urban areas for medical protection and humanitarian reasons.

Finnish Refugee Council in Ethiopia

Through its work, FRC will aim at empowering target groups – i.e. refugees (in and out of camps) and host communities – by the access to functional literacy and technical skills adequate to the context where they live to positively transform their lives.

FRC got registered in Ethiopia in June 2019 and set up its country office in August 2020. FRC first project started in September 2020 in Gambella Region, which is located in the South West of the country, borders South Sudan and hosts more than 350,000 South Sudanese refugees in 7 camps.

The realization of the right to education, at the centre of FRC’s strategy, appears to be particularly relevant for South Sudanese refugees, considering the exceptionally high illiteracy rate among them; the literacy rate in South Sudan is the third lowest in the world, 27% only (female literacy rate being 16%, and male 40%).

Kuvassa on Suomen Pakolaisavun logolla varustettu ajoneuvo ja sen ympärillä paikallisia ihmisiä Etiopiassa.

Finnish Refugee Council is committed to supporting the realization of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in all its projects. Read more about the SDG’s that guide our work and activities.

Project Summaries

Inclusive Functional Education and Livelihoods Programme for Refugees in Ethiopia 2022-2025 

The project aims at ensuring access to Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) and English for Adults (EFA) for vulnerable refugees and host community members. Functional literacy is expected to bring about positive effects on targeted learners, especially empowering targeted women and PWDs. FRC intervention targets Jewi, Kule, Tierkidi, Ngunyuyel refugee camps and host communities in Gambella Regional State, which hosts South Sudanese refugees. Basic literacy course is organized in the students’ own mother tongue, which provides the best potential for learning. The overall estimated number of adults attending the FAL and EFA courses is 8,000. Besides, at least 280 peer literacy facilitators, selected from target communities, will be trained to manage the courses. 20% of the learners are from host communities and 80% from refugee communities. 

Livelihood support include financial and business skills trainings, and practical, employable skills trainings, such as IT skills trainings, for refugee populations in Gambella and Addis Ababa City. 2600 individuals are planned to directly benefit from the livelihood activities. 

Budget: EUR 1,873,000
Duration: 4 years
Start date: 1.1.2022-31.12.2025
Type/Sector: Development cooperation/Livelihoods and Functional Adult Literacy
Donor: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland – Unit for Civil Society

SDG logo with text: Quality education
SDG logo with text: 8 Decent work and economic growth
SDG logo with text: 16 Peace, justice and strong insitutions

Extended emergency support to IDPs in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

The conflict in Northern Ethiopia has further exacerbated the existing ethnic tensions across the country, where the security situation has been rapidly deteriorating throughout 2022. Finnish Refugee Council’s project will respond to the specific needs of those Ethiopians who have been displaced in Amhara region due to the large-scale killings and violence in Oromia. The project will benefit at least 45 000 internally displaced persons staying in South Wollo Zone. The main humanitarian needs of the target group the project will be responding to are: 1) inadequate food rations and the lack and poor quality of latrines, 2) low level of literacy (Amharic), 3) protection issues related to war trauma, and 4) disruption of gender-based violence services and fear of stigmatization on reporting GBV.

The project will be implemented jointly with Action for the Needy Ethiopia (ANE).

Budget: EUR 1,197,700
Duration: 1 year
Start date: 1st of April 2023
Type/Sector: Humanitarian assistance/Multi-sectoral
Donor: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland – Humanitarian office 

Integrated Protection and Livelihood Opportunities for Refugee Response in Gambella Camps of Ethiopia  

Targeting refugee and host communities in Gambella region the project aims at: 

  1. mitigating protection risks and ensuring access to essential and life-saving services; 
  2. enhancing the engagement of adolescents and youth in peace building initiatives; 
  3. Increasing access to income and livelihoods opportunities. 

Under the lead of the Danish Refugees Council (DRC), the project is co-implemented by DRC, FRC, Center for Victims of Torture, and Humanity and Inclusion. FRC provides Functional Adult Literacy and Financial Literacy trainings to improve participants’ ability to handle cash and do basic financial planning and savings. 2,500 learners of whom 70% are women will be targeted. At least 100 peer facilitators from the refugee and host communities are trained to manage the courses.  

Budget: USD 765,500
Duration: 3 years
Start date: 1st of August 2022
Type/Sector: Development cooperation/ Functional Adult Literacy & Financial Literacy
Donor: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration

SDG logo with text: Quality education
SDG logo with text: 8 Decent work and economic growth
SDG logo with text: 16 Peace, justice and strong insitutions

Supporting resilience of people affected by conflict and drought in North and South Wollo Zones, East Amhara

The project targets 11,200 vulnerable internally displaced persons, host community members and people affected by the conflict, drought and hunger (60% women, 10% persons with disabilities,10% older persons) in three geographical areas in South and North Wollo, Amhara. The humanitarian response consists of the delivery of multipurpose cash for food and shelter, enhancement of the quality and availability of protection services and the provision of financial and functional literacy training to the vulnerable community. Gender equality and disability inclusion will cut across the whole intervention. The protection activities will be implemented together with local partner organisation Women Empowerment Action will in North Wollo.   

Budget: 520 700 EUR
12 months
Start date:
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Enhanced Access to Digital Financial Services for women in Ethiopia

Under this research and advocacy project FRC will develop a digital financial literacy training to enhance vulnerable women’s access to digital financial services. Further FRC will raise awareness amongst digital financial service providers on the particular challenges illiterate women or women with low literacy levels encounter when trying to use digital financial services, and support the service providers in addressing these barriers. FRC will also develop a policy brief based on the project findings on actions to be taken to further support vulnerable women’s access to digital financial services.

Budget:38 967 USD
5 months
Start date:



Stories from Ethiopia

Functional adult literacy training gives hope of a better future in Ethiopia

Riek yat Wich Duel, 57, recalls the moment his village was caught in the middle ...

Functional literacy trainings in Ethiopia reinforce FRC’s targeted support to vulnerable groups

Finnish Refugee Council’s Adult Education project began in Ethiopia in April 2021, when it was ...

Functional Literacy training for more than 1,200 adults – Study Groups in Ethiopia began in April

Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) study groups in Ethiopia began operating in April 2021. The study ...

Sudden, but predictable conflict in Ethiopia 

A conflict between the federal government of Ethiopia and forces in its northern Tigray region ...


Country Director George Were

Ethiopia Office:

Kirkos Sub City, Woreda 02
Degafie building 3rd Floor House No. 226
Addis Ababa

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, With support from Finland's development cooperation