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One foot on the ground, one foot in the air: Ethiopia’s delivery on an ambitious development agenda

Research reports

Written by Andrew Rogerson, Tom Berliner

​Despite starting out with one of the lowest levels of human development in the world in the 1990s, Ethiopia is one of the few African countries on track to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals. 

This case study looks at the progress achieved in material well-being, education and employment, where Ethiopia has shown particularly strong performance over the past 10 to 15 years. However this transformation is far from complete and a number of challenges remain, not least the depth and breadth of chronic poverty.

A number of key lessons for the Sustainable Development Goals can be drawn from Ethiopia's experience:

  • Centering government policy on a single goal - poverty reduction - and taking a multidimensional approach can encourage ministries to work more comprehensively and consistently.
  • Integrating social sectors into broader economic planning and high rates of pro-poor spending benefit the economy. 
  • Long-term planning and a clear division of responsibilities can build the foundation for broader transformation.



Amanda Lenhardt, Andrew Rogerson, Francesca Guadagno, Tom Berliner, Mulu Gebreeyesus and Alebel Bayru