Ethiopia is a highly indebted country whose development has declined over the last decade. Much of Ethiopias population lives in poverty. The UNDPs Human Poverty Index 2002 places Ethiopia 83rd amongst 85 developing countries. According to the United Nations Childrens Fund "State of the Worlds Children Report 2008", 12 percent of Ethiopian children die before they reach the age of five.

    The humanitarian situation in the drought-affected north and north-eastern Ethiopia continues to deteriorate as severe droughts continue to occur every year.

    The area has experienced successive failures of the Belg (short rains ending in May) and Meher (long rains, which start in late July) in the past few years, resulting in low crop yields in some parts and near-crop failure in others.

    The Ethiopian government and its humanitarian partners issued an update on 14 October 2008, seeking emergency aid for an estimated 6.4 million people across the country.