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From 1990 to 2011, contraceptive use in Ethiopia increased ninefold and the total fertility rate fell from 7.0 to 4.8. These are two dramatic illustrations of a family planning success story that has emerged over the last two decades and is still emerging. What are the main elements of this success? We posit that the four most significant factors are: political will, generous donor support, nongovernmental and public–private partnerships, and the government's establishment of a network of health extension workers. In this study, we look at these factors and how their interaction increased the proportion of women having both the desire to use and ability to access contraceptives. Also highlighted are some of the key lessons learned in Ethiopia that are relevant to other African countries interested in emulating the country's success.