OTHER LOCAL THEMES
culture and customs
justice and crime
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