Social policy and evidence for social inclusion

Enhancing the government’s capacity to implement a child sensitive social protection system

Angesom, 3 waits for a nutritious porridge made from locally available products

The challenges

Ethiopia is undergoing rapid economic change. GDP increased from about US$8 billion in 2000 to more than US$70 billion in 2017. During this period, poverty reduction has been exceptional relative to other African countries. Nevertheless, poverty remains pervasive, with most children experiencing some form of deprivation. Multidimensional deprivations have long-lasting effects on children’s development and increase the likelihood of chronic and inter generational poverty.

Despite impressive socio-economic growth, national figures hide regional disparities, and challenges remain in equity, as illustrated by persistent geographic, gender and well-being inequalities. An estimated 26 percent of the population still lives below the national poverty line of US$0.60 a day, and 43 percent of the population – 46 per cent in rural areas and 27 per cent in urban areas – are vulnerable to absolute poverty. Issues related to inclusive growth and human development also persist, with the poorest of the poor not fully participating in or benefiting from the country’s economic gains. Women and girls especially those in hard to reach areas remain disadvantaged in various social, economic and political spheres of life. The steady improvement in the representation of women in decision making at the prominent levels such as     the national house of peoples’ representative where their representation rose from 2.8% in 1995 to the current 38.8 as well as their appointment to occupy 50% of ministerial positions including in the areas of trade & industry and defense, in October 2018 is very encouraging.  

In the next two decades, the population of working-age people will increase faster than the population of infants and children under the age of 15. The economic and social benefits of this demographic change have the potential to accelerate social and economic progress. Evidence-based policy making and budgetary choices for domestic investments in Ethiopian women, children and young people through redistributive and inclusive budgets, policies and social programmes will be critical if the country to attain middle-income status.

Social inclusion in numbers

  • 26 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line of US$0.60 a day
  • 32.4 per cent of children live below the national poverty line
  • 43 per cent of the population is vulnerable to absolute poverty
  • 9 - 10 million out of 13 million children living in poor households do not receive social protection support.
  • Ethiopia ranks 115th out of 144 countries in the 2017 global gender gap index by the world economic forum.




Strengthening social inclusion to address multidimensional poverty is a core part of UNICEF’s programme in Ethiopia. UNICEF’s social policy programme focuses on analysis of data to inform policy responses to child poverty and budgeting for children and aims to deliver results in five areas:

  • Child poverty analysis and evidence-generation for decision making in child emerging issues such as climate change, urbanization, equity.
  • Child rights, non-discrimination and participation.
  • Public financial management, governance and decentralization.
  • Child-sensitive social protection system.
  • Gender, non-discrimination against women and participation.