Addis Ababa

  አዲስ አበባ

I know its overly cliché to say so about a city in a developing nation – but Addis Ababa really is a city of contrasts.

Taxi waiting for its next passenger


A not uncommon sight as many development agencies appear to have a fairly heavy presence
Traffic problems – Addis style
street cleaner

I don’t intend to give the perception that I really understand the city – having only spent a few weeks there – but it definitely is the kind of place that leaves an impression on you.

Apparently that whole: “this side up” “lift only from bottom” don’t apply here


You can walk down the same street and see beautiful children playing, and suddenly be smacked in the face with the smell of raw sewage in the gutter just next to you (and them).

This man was lying along the road that was closed off to traffic and lined with soldiers and police so the foreign diplomats could speed as effortlessly as possible between the African Union building, the airport and the 5-star hotels
Foreign diplomat cars outside the Radisson
the interior of one of the many fine cabs that I rode in

There are signs of development like the new African Union building, and reminders of decaying infrastructure that is in no way capable of supporting the population.




Brand new Land Cruisers ride down the street next to donkey-carts, as houses made of corrugated sheet metal sit in the shadows of 4-star hotels

while conducting an interview with a coffee exporter, we could see the military snipers atop the building across the parking lot from us.




Its a city with millions of inhabitants (no official tally is really accurate, largely due to growth rates and the amount of people living in slums but somewhere between 4-7million) – and no sewer system. 70% of the households have pit-toilets, and 14% have none.



Another very noticeable thing about this city is that it sits at an freakish elevation of 2300-3000m depending on the area of the city.  I really noticed the thin air – and thats for someone who lives in the Alpes.  The first day I went for a run – I felt winded after maybe 10 minutes – there is smog, humidity and heat in the air…but apparently no oxygen.  No wonder the Ethiopians keep cleaning up in long-distance running events.



One response to “Addis Ababa”

  1. […] course there are similarities to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (where I was last May doing research) – but it was quite different in many ways.  Being 1/5 of the size – […]

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