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SEATTLE -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced the appointment of its first official representative in Ethiopia. Haddis Tadesse, who has worked as an external relations officer for the foundation since 2007, will assume the new position later this month and be based in Addis Ababa.
Tadesse, who grew up in Ethiopia and was educated in the United States, will serve as the foundation’s liaison to the federal government of Ethiopia and the African Union. He also will help the foundation strengthen its relationships with health and development partners operating in Ethiopia, including donor agencies, international NGOs and local Ethiopian organizations.
The foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.
“We invest more than half of our resources in Africa, and we want to build closer and more effective relationships with valued partners on the ground,” said foundation co-chair Melinda Gates. “Ethiopia is making great progress in health and economic growth, and we hope to support these efforts by appointing Haddis, who possesses deep knowledge of the country, its challenges, and its huge potential.”
Ethiopia is an important focus country for the foundation, which currently provides more than USD $265 million in funding to partner organizations that are operating health and development programs across the nation. That amount includes funding to help small farmers increase food production, as well as grants to expand access to childhood vaccines, maternal and child health programs, financial services for the poor, safe water and sanitation, and other effective, low-cost innovations.
Ethiopia also benefits indirectly from the foundation’s investments in global partner organizations such as the GAVI Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which provide grants to country governments to expand vaccine delivery and increase the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of major diseases.
The foundation made its first program investments in Ethiopia in 2000, and it has since made more than 125 grants to partner organizations that are either working in Ethiopia or conducting research and development designed to benefit Ethiopia.
“I am very excited to be the foundation’s first representative in Ethiopia,” said Tadesse. “I am especially thrilled to have an opportunity to help expand access to health and development in the land where I was raised.”
One example of the foundation’s efforts to build effective partnerships in Ethiopia is its support for the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA). It has provided a total of USD $25.1 million to three partners – the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Food Policy Research Institute, and Synergos Institute – that are working to strengthen ATA’s capacity to stimulate the Ethiopian economy by increasing production among smallholder farmers.
Other examples of foundation-supported efforts in Ethiopia include grants to:
The JSI Research & Training Institute to improve the delivery of maternal and child health through support provided by rural extension workers;
FHI Solutions to develop better approaches to nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s development between pregnancy and age two;
AGRA to improve the soil management skills of small farmers and their access to local fertilizers; and
The World Food Programme to improve market opportunities for smallholder farmers to sell surplus food to UN agencies that respond to humanitarian emergencies in the Horn of Africa
Tadesse earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s in public administration from the University of Washington in Seattle. He began working at the foundation as an advisor to the Agricultural Development program and has recently served as an external relations officer, managing the foundation’s engagement with key stakeholders in Africa.