Addis Abeba

Children from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Urban Ethiopian children are often deprived of a safe and nurturing childhood.

Many young women turn to prostitution to make ends meet due to a massive gender equality gap in education and employment in the country.

Inequality between rich and poor, male and female

The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Abeba (often spelled, Addis Ababa), has been rapidly growing as rural poor seek a better life in the city. Its population is expanding rapidly and is currently estimated at 4 million, though this may well be a low estimate.

The rural poor are drawn to the bright lights, shopping malls, great infrastructure and luxury hotels of the city. Most don't get a taste of the high life and instead end up in sprawling slums in and around Addis Abeba. The country's Millennium Development Goals include the target of 63% of the country having access to a safe water supply and 58% getting better sanitation by 2015. These goals seem unlikely to be met.

Women and girls held back

Among the population as a whole, gender inequality in education and employment are major issues. 23% of women in Addis Abeba are illiterate and 22% have only completed primary education. Only 4% get a university degree. This seriously limits their chances at getting ahead in life, and many young women become prostitutes to make ends meet at home. There are 150 000 prostitutes in the city, many of whom are HIV positive.

SOS Children provides holistic and sustainable support

We arrived in Addis Abeba in 1981 and have been working to help the community at large ever since. We offer community outreach programmes to support local families, ensuring family cohesion and reduce the risk of children being abandoned.

women doing crochet Addis ababa

We help parents get better qualifications with the intention of getting better employment. We help their children access state education. Our social centres also offer day-care facilities so parents can attend work safe in the knowledge their children are in good hands.

We also run a medical centre which reaches over 7,000 people in the community. It provides a number of services, including a community participatory health project, voluntary HIV testing, ante- and post-natal care, and a reproductive health service.

SOS Children's Village Addis Abeba

For children who are no longer able to live with their parents, we house up to 150 children in 15 SOS families, lovingly cared for by SOS mothers. They attend the SOS nursery in the community alongside their fellows from the wider community.

As they grow up, children need more independence and are offered support through the SOS youth programme. Living in shared, supported accommodation they can access further education or vocational training. As they make the decisions critical to young adulthood, so they are given guidance by trained youth counsellors.

In the suburb of Kality there is an SOS Vocational Centre which offers young people a three year vocational training course in furniture making, automotive engine and chassis servicing, general metal fabrication and assembly, and automotive electronics. Getting the skills of qualified tradesmen and women, this builds sound foundations for their future.

Finally, SOS Children run a staff development centre in Addis Abeba. Future SOS mothers and staff get comprehensive training and are prepared for the jobs they will have working with us across Ethiopia.

In the capital of Ethiopia, children who have been orphaned and abandoned are cared for in our Children's Village. Help provide for these little ones by sponsoring a child today.


SOS Children cares for children in our SOS Children’s Villages and SOS Youth Homes until independence.