Timeline: 20 years in Ethiopia

We're celebrating 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 of Impact


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


A paediatric eye health centre was opened in Menelik II Hospital in Addis Ababa. This was the first child-friendly facility in the country. Paediatric eye health centres were also opened in Hawassa and Gondar in 2012. Orbis 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 since 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.

A boy in Ethiopia is screened for Trachoma


Alongside partners, Orbis 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 programmes in Gondar and Hawassa. Pre-2005, there were zero optometrists in-country; now there are more than 230 professionals providing vital primary eye examinations and services.


Orbis Ireland hosted their first group of fundraisers in the Great Ethiopian Run. By 2018, Orbis's participation had raised over $1.2 million for trachoma elimination in the SNNPR.


Orbis opened paediatric eye health centres in Hawassa and Gondor.


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


The Trachoma Impact Study across 21 districts in Ethiopia found that trachoma had been eradicated in 14, with a prevalence of under 5%.

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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