Collaborative research projects have a significant role in filling the knowledge gaps that are obstacles to the rigorous assessment of volcanic hazards in some locations. Research is essential to generate the evidence on which raising awareness of volcanic hazards, monitoring and early warning systems, risk reduction activities and efforts to increase resilience can be built. We report the current state of volcanic hazards research and practice in Ethiopia and on the collaborative process used in the Afar Rift Consortium project to promote awareness of volcanic hazards. Effective dissemination of findings to stakeholders and the integration of results into existing practice need leadership by in-country researchers, effective long-term collaboration with other researchers (e.g. international groups) and operational scientists, in addition to integration with existing programmes related to disaster risk reduction initiatives.