2022 Organisation and Management of Aid Evaluation

Swedish Development Cooperation with Ethiopia: Sixty Years of Lessons Learned

Bereket Kebede, Leif Danielsson, Hailu Elias, Gunnar Köhlin

One of the most important partner countries for Swedish aid has historically been Ethiopia; the country became Sweden’s first bilateral development cooperation partner in 1954, while Swedish development financing to Ethiopia remains significant to this day. This evaluation covers 60 years of Swedish development cooperation with Ethiopia, examining both the results and relevance of Swedish aid over the period.

In recent decades, Swedish aid to Ethiopia has focused on strengthening democracy, human rights and gender equality, and less on ‘traditional’ sectors of support such as rural development, agriculture and education. The authors find that the most important long-term results of Swedish aid can be found in rural development and education sectors, though interventions in democracy and human rights have served to strengthen civil society in Ethiopia.

Key conclusions and recommendations include:

  1. Swedish aid to Ethiopia has been more stable than that of other donors, while Sweden has played a more active leadership role amongst donors to Ethiopia than would be suggested by the volume of its aid.
  2. Sida’s tradition of consulting stakeholders during the planning and execution of aid should be maintained and further developed.
  3. Compared to other top donors to Ethiopia, Sweden’s sectoral allocation was the most fragmented. There are both positive and negative sides effects of aid fragmentation at country level, which Sida should be mindful of.
  4. Parallel or overlapping aims can potentially result in goal conflict, such as that between poverty reduction and human rights, and criteria are needed for determining a hierarchy of priorities.
  5. Sweden’s experience in Ethiopia provides insight into aspects of the international aid architecture. These include emphasising partnership rather than conditionality, appreciating historical and long-term structural conditions, as well as pragmatism.