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Ethiopians Grim After Two Years of War

Ethiopians Grim After Two Years of War

by Zach Bikus

Story Highlights

  • Two-thirds of Ethiopians report not having enough money for food
  • Ratings of life today drop to a new low
  • 41% reported experiencing worry yesterday, a new high

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The war between Ethiopian and Tigrayan forces may have ended, but the struggle is far from over for most Ethiopians. Battered by two years of war, COVID-19 and rising food costs, Ethiopians surveyed at the tail end of the war in 2022 found themselves in the grimmest situation in more than a decade.

While unable to access the Tigray region because of the conflict, the latest Gallup study conducted throughout the rest of Ethiopia in the fall of 2022 found a record-high 65% of Ethiopians reporting they struggled to afford food in the past year.


The World Food Programme estimates that food prices in Ethiopia were up 43% in April 2022 compared with April 2021, while the cost of certain staples, like vegetable oil, have soared over 80%. Ethiopia, which is the second-most-populous nation in Africa, is also facing its worst drought in 40 years, according to United Nations officials. The situation is almost certainly worse in the Tigray region, which faced a blockade of many essential goods including food, medicine and humanitarian aid throughout the course of the conflict.

The rising cost of food is exacerbated by pressure on income as well. In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic and the war, 28% of Ethiopians felt that it was “very difficult” for them to get by on their present household income. Today, that number has climbed to 45%. With economic growth falling below 4% in 2022 (compared with an average of 9.7% between 2010 and 2018), workers will continue to be hard-pressed to make ends meet.

Ethiopians’ Ratings of Their Lives Continue to Fall

Although Ethiopians have rated their present lives lower than the global average for the past decade, their evaluations have dropped dramatically since 2020.

When asked to rate their lives today on a scale of 0 to 10, Ethiopians' average rating dropped from 4.5 in 2020 to just 3.6 today, the lowest rating since Gallup began tracking this metric in Ethiopia in 2012. This is well below the 2021 average worldwide (5.3) as well as in sub-Saharan Africa (4.5).


The headwinds facing the country may also have exacted a toll on Ethiopians’ emotional health. In October 2020, after the emergence of COVID-19 but before the outbreak of war, 28% of Ethiopians reported feeling worried during a lot of the day. By the fall of 2022, that number had risen to 41%. Reported levels of physical pain, anger and stress also increased during this period.



Ethiopia faces a monumental task in rebuilding and reconciliation in the wake of the conflict there. The widespread humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region, accompanied by growing pressures throughout the rest of the country, places a large burden on the government to not only wind down and recover from years of war in the north, but to help spur growth and stability throughout the country.

Yet despite the headwinds, there has been some positive news in recent weeks. The cessation of hostilities has allowed the U.N. and other agencies greater access to provide humanitarian relief to Tigray, including more than 3,000 trucks of food and medical supplies since the war ended.

The national government has also attempted to normalize relationships with the global community, including the attendance of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that took place in Washington in December. This meeting laid the groundwork for improved U.S.-Ethiopia relations, including the nomination of a new ambassador to Addis Ababa, a position that has been vacant since last January.

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