Development Aid to Ethiopia: Overlooking Violence, Marginalization, and Political Repression

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Ethiopia is a locus of international attention in the Horn of Africa due to both its consistently high rates of economic growth and for its continued problems with widespread hunger and poverty. The nation is also significant for being among the most dependent on foreign aid. Topping the worldwide list of countries receiving aid from the US, UK, and the World Bank, the nation has been receiving $3.5 billion on average from international donors in recent years, which represents 50 to 60 percent of its national budget.

Development aid has become essential in funding the Ethiopian government’s so-called development strategy, outlined in the 2010 Growth and Transformation Plan. Through extensive infrastructure construction and large-scale agricultural production, the government of Ethiopia seeks to reach middle-income status by 2015. A key element of the development strategy is the relocation of 1.5 million people from areas targeted for industrial plantations under the government’s “villagization” program. With more than 80 percent of the Ethiopian population dependent on agriculture and pastoralism for subsistence, the disruptions caused by the villagization program are resulting in increased food insecurity, destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage.