Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Examining Perceptions of Rapid Population Growth in North and South Gondar Zones, Northwest Ethiopia

Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Examining Perceptions of Rapid Population Growth in North and South Gondar Zones, Northwest Ethiopia

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The development challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa are made greater by rapid population growth and poor reproductive health. The impact of other investments in the region will be undermined unless governments move quickly to address these problems (1). Enabling people to have fewer children, if they want to, helps to stimulate development and reduce poverty in both individual households and societies. Smaller families have more to invest in education and health of children. Rapid population growth contributes to environmental stress, uncontrolled urbanization, and rural and urban poverty (2).

Ethiopia, a federal republic, consists of nine regional states and two city administrations. Its population was projected to be 77.1 million in mid-2007 (ranks second only to Nigeria). However, according to the recent census, it was reported to be about 74 million in 2007. The regions are divided into zones, which are further divided into woredas (districts). The Amhara region where the present study was undertaken is one of the regional states of the country.

Women in sub-Saharan Africa continue to face a 1 in 16 chances of dying from pregnancy and childbirth when the risk for women in the industrialized world is 1 in 2,800 (3,4). Maternal mortality (673 deaths per 100,000 livebirths) in Ethiopia is among the highest in the world (5). Similarly, according to the 2005 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS), the infant mortality rate is also among the highest (77 deaths per 1,000 livebirths). The Amhara region was observed to have the highest infant mortality (94 deaths per 1,000 live births) among the 11 regions of the country. The available facts show that high fertility exposes women to high rates of maternal deaths. Many researchers have also reported unequivocally the association of an increased level of infant/child mortality with high fertility (6-8). Many studies have also shown the influences of other biological, behavioural, socioeconomic and cultural factors on high fertility (5,9-11). Because of the negative influences of many direct and indirect factors, the status of women in Ethiopia is very low and has tremendously affected their participation in the labour force (5,8,12). With all the prevailing background characteristics of women in the Amhara region in particular and in Ethiopia in general, rapid population growth has complicated the situation, thereby making the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger very difficult. The country is caught in a vicious cycle: efforts to improve living standards and alleviate poverty are overwhelmed by the need to provide basic services and jobs for ever-growing numbers of people. With a population doubling time of less than 30 years, Ethiopia is at the crossroads of taking serious measures that will enable the country to escape the trap of abject poverty.

Ethiopia needs to break into the vicious cycle by reducing the excessive population growth to a level which is manageable and that can go in line with the economic development of the country (13). Accordingly, this investigation was aimed at exploring the perceptions of women and other social groups on the prevailing population pressure and at finding out their views towards the control of the present rate of population growth.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The study had two parts. The first one was a quantitative study which involved women of reproductive age. The second part was a qualitative study which consisted of different social groups. The total population of North and South Gondar zones where the present study was carried out was estimated to be 5.6 million in mid-2008. About 28% of the Amhara people live in these zones.

Quantitative study

A cross-sectional survey aimed at exploring the perceptions and views of women on the prevailing population pressure was undertaken in North and South Gondar zones from mid-October to mid-December 2007. …

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