For the past decade Ethiopia has boasted of one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, welcoming billions of dollars in foreign direct investment from the U.S. and China and lifting more than 20 million people out of poverty.
Now, a monthlong civil war, coronavirus lockdowns and historic locust infestations have left the once-golden economy stumbling, as it grapples with one of Africa’s most perilous debt loads, soaring inflation and the risk of a protracted insurgency.
Fighting between government forces and the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front has paralyzed much of northern Ethiopia, shaking a nation of 110 million people long seen as a symbol of stability in a volatile region.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has claimed victory after taking the rebel stronghold of Mekelle, but TPLF fighters have retreated into remote mountainous regions and vow to continue fighting.
Roads, bridges, a power plant and a sugar mill have been destroyed. The Ethiopian currency has sunk 20% against the dollar this year, suppressing purchasing power across a nation where millions of people are already dependent on food aid.