Objective: to explore barriers and facilitators that enable women to access skilled birth attendance in Afar Region, Ethiopia. Design researchers used a Key Informant Research approach (KIR), whereby Health Extension Workers participated in an intensive training workshop and conducted interviews with Afar women in their communities. Data was also collected from health-care workers through questionnaires, interviews and focus groups.Participants: fourteen health extension workers were key informants and interviewers; 33 women and eight other health-care workers with a range of experience in caring for Afar childbearing women provided data as individuals and in focus groups. Findings: participants identified friendly service, female skilled birth attendants (SBA) and the introduction of the ambulance service as facilitators to SBA. There are many barriers to accessing SBA, including women?s low status and restricted opportunities for decision making, lack of confidence in health-care facilities, long distances, cost, domestic workload, and traditional practices which include a preference for birthing at home with a traditional birth attendant. Key conclusions: many Afar men and women expressed a lack of confidence in the services provided at health-care facilities which impacts on skilled birth attendance utilization.