Interactive Timeline: 20 Years in Ethiopia

In 2018, we celebrated 20 years of fighting blindness in Ethiopia. Take a moment to scroll through the highlights from this amazing milestone. A big thank you to all our wonderful staff, partners and volunteers, without whom, none of this would be possible.

20 years in Ethiopia logo

20 Years of Impact


We registered and established the Ethiopia office in Addis Ababa to manage year-round projects. It was our first in-country program office and has grown to over 60 staff who work tirelessly on 11 long-term projects across the country.


The Pediatric Eye Health Center was opened in Menelik II Hospital in Addis Ababa. This was the first child-friendly facility in the country. Pediatric Eye Health Centers have also been opened in Hawasa and Gordor in 2012. We also started Trachoma Elimination work by implementing the WHO SAFE strategy at Gurage Zone, Enemore Enmer District in the SNNPR.


The Flying Eye Hospital’s first project in Addis Ababa: during an advocacy tour with the plane. It has subsequently visited in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2018 to bolster sub-speciality training. We also opened Ethiopia's first Eye Bank, the only eye bank and tissue harvesting facility in sub-Saharan Africa. President Girma Woldegiorgis was the first Ethiopian to pledge his corneas.


Alongside our partners we conducted the country’s first National Blindness and Low Vision Survey as an evidence-base for future work. We also established the country's first optometry training programs in Gondar and Hawassa. Prior to 2005, there were zero optometrists in country, and now there are over 230 professionals providing vital primary eye examinations and services.


Orbis Ireland host their first group of fundraisers to take part in the Great Ethiopian Run. By 2018 the annual event has raised over $1.2 million for trachoma elimination in the SNNPR.

Two girls at a water point in Ethiopia


Opened Pediatric Eye Health Centers in Hawassa and Gondor.

A woman in Ethiopia receives eye drops for trachoma administered by an Orbis-trained eye care worker


Participated in the Global Trachoma Mapping Project by leading the baseline study in the SNNPR working in 136 districts and coordinating the partners in four regions. During the three year program 7 million doses of antibiotics were distributed and 13,305 people received trichiasis surgery.


The Trachoma Impact Study across 21 districts found that trachoma had been eradicated in 14 districts with a prevalence of under five percent.

School students learn about trachoma prevention at eye care clubs

Going further

The journey continues to eradicate avoidable blindness with our supporters, staff and partners. Thanks for being part of the Orbis family and helping change the way the world sees.

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