1.3  Population and the environment

Rapid population growth, low agricultural production and destruction of the environment are practices common to most of the sub-Saharan African countries, including Ethiopia. As people tend to live in crowded situations on small pieces of land, there has been an increase in demand for agricultural and grazing land, as well as woodland for fuel and construction, so that extensive and rapid deforestation and soil erosion has occurred. For example, Ethiopia has lost about 13.6% of its forest density since 1950. This situation in turn facilitates drought and hunger.

As a result of uncontrolled population growth in Ethiopia, population density has increased rapidly over the last 30‒40 years, and it is projected that population density will be 166 people per square kilometre in 2050, compared with a figure of 72 people per square kilometre in 2005. This implies that the population will be forced to live in overcrowded areas with small pieces of land to cultivate and, as a result, will eventually end up in extreme poverty and even hunger.

Stop reading for a moment and think about this from your own experience. How might your own village population change?

  • These figures suggest that your village could have twice as many people living in it in 2050. Would there be enough jobs and food for everyone? What would be the effect of such population growth?

  • In view of the fact that 84% of the population lives in rural areas and is dependent on agriculture, unless population growth is controlled, pressure on scarce natural resources will increase in Ethiopia.

1.2  Population size and growth

1.4  Family planning and its benefits