culture and customs
family life
food security
justice and crime
social institutions
social relationships
spiritual beliefs
traditional skills

introducing the area


 quotes about population
 key testimonies featuring population

An apparently dramatic increase in the population in recent years is perceived by narrators as a major problem, yet few offer an explanation for the trend except one man (Ethiopia 12), who believes that a lowering the age at which girls marry and have children is the key factor. Several narrators stress the importance of birth control and the need for contraception. The reduction in the death rate, owing to improved medical care, might be expected to lead to a lower birth rate rather than a higher one. Yet, say some narrators (Ethiopia 6), whereas in the past most people had two or three children, in recent years the norm has become five or six, and many more children are born outside marriage. One (Ethiopia 3) specifically attributes the population increase to the rise in extramarital births. Several say that young girls are not as strong as they used to be, due to the poor diet, and are more easily led astray: "When a girl feeds regularly on milk, meat and well-buttered injera (thin pancake of fermented teff), she is not easily seduced or overcome by men. Nowadays, they get no more than a quarter of injera and sometimes only cereals. So they are physically weak" (Ethiopia 12).

The return of farmers who were resettled elsewhere, usually in the lowlands, under the Derg's land redistribution scheme is seen as further increasing the pressure on the land: "In the past the Derg (military regime 1974-89) reduced the size of the farming community by taking some of them and resettling them in fertile areas. Now these resettled farmers have come back and thus a scarcity of land was created" (Ethiopia 13).

quotes about population

"Since coming to power the Derg and the EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front) have been telling us that women must not marry before the age of 15 and men before the age of 20. Our fathers used to say that a man expects to live for up to 80 years and a woman takes the sacrament at the age of 60 and then becomes a nun. Now, however, when a young man reaches the age of 20, he migrates to earn a living, but he becomes weak from hardship and cannot support his parents. So, we argued that the age of marriage should be lowered to 12 years for women and 18 years for men. If she marries at the age of 12, she will be a mother of two by the age of 15.. When we consider the growth of the population, however, we now realise that what we were told about the age of marriage is correct. We are therefore beginning to accept that girls should marry at the age of 15 and men at the age of 20."
Mesele, M/55, farmer, Ethiopia 12

"Household size has grown very much because of ignorance of family planning and birth control methods on the part of the uneducated population...With the support of health officers, families should be guided to adopt strategies of giving birth at long intervals and using birth control medicine."
Muliye, M/37, farmer, Ethiopia 15

key testimonies featuring population

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   1   Ayichesh   female/28   head of household   Gala Dejen (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   10   Hamza   male/28   farmer   Gumar  
Summary Transcript   11   Azenu   female/45   farmer/ female head of household   Meqerqeriat (lowlands)  
Summary Transcript   13   Mesay   male/28   farmer   Meqerretcha/Denkenna (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   14   Itiye   female/58   traditional midwife   Gebeya Meda (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   15   Muliye   male/37   farmer   (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   16   Mekonen   male/72   priest   Ganchire Gebriel  
Summary Transcript   19   Yaregal   male/41   farmer trained in beekeeping   Warkaye  
Summary Transcript   2   Negussie   female/45   market trader   Filaqit, Woina Dega (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   20   Melese   male/45   farmer   Denkena,Wodih Mado Mar Feriche (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   21   Mario   male/40   farmer   Filaqit town (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   3   Lemlem   female/67   farmer/ nun   Woina Dega (midlands)  
Summary Transcript   4   Zewde   female/38   housewife   Highlands  
Summary Transcript   6   Belay   male/18   student priest   Kurrisa (lowlands)  
Summary Transcript   7   Belay   male/41   blacksmith/farmer   Doba Giorgis (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   8   Yekaba   female/25   farmer/female head of household   Gala Dejen (highlands)  
Summary Transcript   9   Haji Zekiy   male/57   Qadi (Muslim religious leader)   Tcherqos village (highlands)