Africa’s rising population growth has been a vital topic for some time now, and Ethiopia is at the centre of it. Over the past decade, it has been booming, putting pressure on the ever-changing economic spectrum of Ethiopia. The economic growth has not kept pace with the population growth. The consequence has been unfulfilled societal demands and an ever declining employment rate.
One of the challenges of development Ethiopia is facing is population growth. Disproportionate population increase has various adverse effects including undue pressure on natural resources. More people need more consumption which in turn means more exploitation of permanent and exhaustible resources.
The high annual rate of population growth brought with it increased needs for resources. In line with the ambitious goal of becoming a lower middle-income economy in less than seven years, ineffective policies continue to put pressure on the economy.
Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing countries. However, the country is still on the list of one of the poorest countries in the globe due to its uncontrolled population upsurge, according to the 2018 World Factbook of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. The World Bank also says Ethiopia, the fastest growing economy in the East African region, remains one of the poorest with a per capita income of under 1000 dollars.
Africa is home to over a billion people today. In the coming three decades, the total population is estimated to double to over 2.4 billion.
Population growth has always been a predetermining factor of economic development. Such high population rates have strained resources, particularly in poor countries such as Ethiopia.
A sustained population growth has not been achieved thus far. The more families decide to have new children, the larger the families burden to share resources with each child. This results in less saving and reduced economic scale of families.
A burgeoning population also entails economic development must outpace population growth. Basic social services and employment opportunities otherwise will be strained.
A gradually declining infant mortality rate coupled with high fertility rates to the issue. The prestige of having a large family has left families and the country impacted.
The desire to have larger families is heightened by the perceived economic value of children and for religious purposes. Children are considered to provide parents economic security and financial support even at an early age. Having more children is also at times a contingency against relatively high child mortality rates due to lack of adequate access to medical care.
Population control measures of Ethiopia have had limited impact on the overall population growth. The current population of Ethiopia is estimated to be over a 100 million with a 2.5pc growth rate.
The elevated number of population prompts enlarged demand for scarce resources including food, housing, education, access to health as well as employment opportunities. Lack of short and long-term country-level demographic plans have also escalated the uncontrolled population patterns.
The seriousness of the problem requires immediate attention to attain the desired economic development. Population increase has outpaced economic growth leading societies to live under severe poverty. A lot more people have had to make ends meet with a lot less than illustrated in economic reports of the country.
For Ethiopia to achieve economic development and social transformation, it must first drastically limit its population growth while increasing its resource base through improved productivity. This requires a sound and practical policy to limit population growth.
When population growth declines over a continued period of time the proportion of the working-age population increases relative to the economically dependent younger generation. This arrangement offers an opportunity for Ethiopia to raise its level of economic development using its demographic dividend.
Judging from developed countries’ experiences, Ethiopia should shift from its current state-driven birth control measures to the most effective population control mechanism which is motivating individuals to have a need for self-improvement. The desired controlled number of populations can only be achieved through an essential transformation of the society’s mindset and conviction for personal economic welfare.
Education can change a lot, creating an understanding of the general public towards the negative consequences of raising too many children. Studies show that women and those with access to reproductive health services find it easier to apply family planning. Improving medical care and coverage also plays a vital role as it stops people from having too many children for fear of child mortality due to lack of access to medical services.
Strict legal steps and proper enforcement prohibiting parents from sending their children to work at an early age will ensure that parents will be compelled to have fewer children without turning a blind eye to their economic status. Providing cheaper health and education incentives for family planning can be effective policy measures to combat excessive population growth.
The negative consequences of having large numbers of families and the direct relation of population growth and poverty must be shown to the public. This will bring a lasting solution to the ever-neglected population growth factor. Responsible parenthood and effective population control policies will pave a wider way to the much dreamed of lower middle-income status.
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