Ethiopia: Integrating Population, Health and Environment –

Ethiopia, a country endowed with rich natural resources,is home for more than 100 million people. The diversified aggro ecological zones stands testimonial to the abundance its resources. However, due to neglectful of sustainable utilization, the resource had been dwindling from time to time. The century old primitive farming and livestock breeding systems have aggravated soil depletion and land degradation.

The search for additional farmlands due to population pressure has triggered the clearance of vegetation cover, which again accelerates erosion. Such a situation further compromises the ecosystem. The current global warming and climate change also worsens the matter and force us to feel helpless. To curb the problem and embark on sustainable development the government with the cooperation of other stakeholders and non governmental organization has to exert its energy. Some encouraging results particularly on conservation are being registered.

However, unless the population pressure is checked,the appalling situation of the natural resources further aggravates . Semere Sileshi is working for PHE Ethiopia ( Population Health and Environment) a None Governmental Organization Population Department at the Bale Zone. According to him, in order to balance the number of population with the available resource his organization works on sexual reproduction and family planning. However, population explosion is continuing unchecked and this in turn put pressure on the natural resources. Particularly the need for additional farmland has created a negative impact on the biodiversity. The clearance of vegetation cover forces animals to leave their habitat.

The rampant unemployment in urban centers has pressurized the youth to be victims of human traffickers. In fact in the Bale zone the conservation work of natural resource is underway but for its sustainability, the population factor must get the necessary attention. Among the measures to curb population pressure, raising the awareness of the public can be mentioned. Practicing birth control through contraception and giving birth on years interval has became common. Traditionally in the Bale zone polygamy is practiced.

This has its own impact on population explosion and bringing attitudinal change is not an easy task. Currently, in the zone polygamy is 21 percent out of the the households and it has its own impact on search for additional plots as well as on the health care of mothers and children. In this regard,to achieve positive outcome,PHE Ethiopia uses as entry means public figures,the elderly and religious leaders. So far the situation seems improving . In the lowland part of the state formerly the provision of family planning was 15 percent, but now the percent is shoot up to 36 .

The youth forums established by high school students has also played a crucial role in awareness creation with regard to reproductive health and conservation of natural resources. The PHE Ethiopia General Manager Negash Teklu on his part said that, population pressure has been resulting in the depletion of natural resources and the deundling of biodiversity at large. To contain the aggravating situation, his organization is trying its level best in awareness creation work at various parts of the country including Bale Zone,the upper Omo Gihbe state and Illu ababora Zones. Awash and the northern mountain parks were preserved areas threatened by population pressure.

As to Negsh, people inhabiting these areas are highly dependent on forests and vegetation cover for household energy,for making farming tools and building houses. As a result, the depletion of natural resources and land degradation are no uncommon. But to curb such practices giving instruction to farmers and guarding the place alone could never be a solution.

Thus,side by side with educating the public ,with regard to the value of forest in balancing the ecosystem, providing alternative mechanism for household energy is vital. By now, the population both in rural and urban centers have became familiar with utilizing energy saving cooking stoves and baking devices. Reducing the rate of felling trees is made possible.

In addition, the reduction of health risks, which comes from smokes, while cooking foods could also be achieved. It is understood that, forest is the major source of bee farming and if it is protected it creates job opportunities. There are people engaged in honey and bee wax production but the number is insignificant. In this regard, PHE Ethiopia teaches farmers to give attention to exploring honey and wax resources. According to the Ethiopian Meat and Diary Development Institute,there are 10 million bee colonies in Ethiopia and this helps the nation to stand out in Africa.

A strategic plan of the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource envisages that to increase the export of honey and bees wax by 40 and 50 percent respectively in the coming 10 years .

This indicates that farmers have huge option not to depend only on crop farming. And through such practices preventing the depletion of natural resource can be realized. Also the upswing in the income of farmers crates a positive impact on the environment because it broadens their options to replace wood by other modern stove for household energy.

According to Negash, meeting the organization’s various objectives calls for collaboration with various sectors such us the Ministry of Environment,Forest and Climate Change,Ministry of Finance and Economic Development,Ministry of Health,Ministry of Electric, so far the officials have visited the sites where PHA is working. In addition , the regional bureaus are taken as major stakeholders.

Both GTP II and CRGE emphasized conserving natural resources and strengthening family planning and reproductive health at house level in the rural parts of the country. Disregarding this,attaining sustainable development is unreliable.

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