Ethiopia sits in the eastern corner of the African continent in what is called “the horn of Africa”. With over 91 million inhabitants, it is the second most populated country on the continent. It is among the top 10 fastest growing nations in the world with an annual population growth approaching 3%.

Ethiopia suffers from poverty and poor sanitation. It is frequently listed among the ten poorest countries in the world. More than three-quarters of the population live on less than one dollar per day.

With regard to health, Ethiopia ranks near the bottom on almost every indicator. For a child-bearing female, the lifetime risk of maternal death, that is death related to pregnancy, is one in sixteen. (In the developed West, it is around one in 2,800). Most of us in the West will never know someone who dies from childbirth. But in Ethiopia, it is far too common. Infant mortality is 72 deaths before one year of age for every 1,000 live births (#165 out of 182 countries).

3/4 of the
lives on less
than $1 per day

Most of the country is very young. In fact, 50% of the population is under the age of 15. Only 2-4% of the population is over age 65.

The economy is agricultural, with coffee being the biggest export. In fact, Ethiopia exports more coffee than any other country in Africa.

Soddo is located in the Wolaitta zone in the state known as the SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region) which has a population of around 15 million. On the map shown, it is about halfway between Awasa and Jima. Over 90% of the population of SNNPR are rural dwellers.

Soddo is 330km south of Addis Ababa at the edge of the Great Rift Valley with beautiful weather at 7,400 feet elevation. Misty green mountains hedge the city, and the climate is moderate and pleasant. October through April is the driest and hottest season, with temperatures ranging from 52 to 80 degree Fahrenheit. May to September is more moderate, with temperatures reaching 70 degrees. Two rainy seasons occur: February to March and May to September.


Animism and Orthodox Christianity are the primary religions. Evangelical Christianity has been in the Wolaitta area for close to a hundred years, and there are many Protestant churches in existence today. The Wolaitta church has also sent evangelists to other areas of Ethiopia. English is spoken by the educated hospital staff. Amharic, is the official language of Ethiopia and is spoken by many. In the Wolaitta area alone about 14 languages are spoken.

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