Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1997-1998 index

Distributed Month 00, 1998
Contact: Kristen Lans

Survey on life in southern Ethiopia given to government policy-makers

A survey on community and family life in Ethiopia, conducted in part by the Brown University Population Studies and Training Center, is expected to be used as a policy planning tool by the Ethiopian government.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A far-reaching survey on life in southern Ethiopia, conducted jointly by demographers at Brown University and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, found families and communities with many health care and education needs. It was turned over to government policy-makers who requested it for planning purposes.

Started a year ago, the survey documented high rates of fertility, infant and child mortality, and malnutrition, as well as low rates of literacy in Ethiopia's Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region. Completed questionnaires were obtained from 2,315 households, 1,086 children ages 3 to 36 months, 2,550 women of reproductive age and 29 communities.

"It helps the government officials to see whether services are getting places or not," said Dennis Hogan, director of the Population Studies and Training Center (PSTC) at Brown University and the study's principal investigator. "At this point they are not."

Hogan and other researchers presented the findings of Community and Family Survey: 1997 to the governor of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region at a workshop in January. That region of 11.1 million people makes up about 20 percent of the population of Ethiopia and is about the size of France.

The survey had been requested by that Regional Office of Population in 1995, in an effort to develop a plan of action for the future development of services such as health care and education. Earlier in the decade, the national government had divided the country into nine regions, similar to states, and had shifted control over such services to local officials.

"In this process the government [needed] information ... a demographic report of this kind is vital," said Markos Ezra, demographic research and training coordinator on the survey from Addis Ababa University.

In requesting that a survey be done, officials expressed an interest in information on such trends as the high rates of morbidity and mortality, large family size, and high malnutrition and food insecurity.

Among the findings:

The survey was funded by the Mellon Foundation Population Program, the Ford Foundation Endowment Fund, the Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies at Brown and the Robert E. Turner Distinguished Professorship in Population Studies at Brown. It was a collaborative effort between the PSTC and the Demographic Training and Research Centre at Addis Ababa University. Part of the mission of the PSTC is to train graduate students from developing countries, and two Brown graduate students from Ethiopia worked on the project. "It is part of our linkage to an interest in public policy worldwide," said Hogan.

Two additional population studies in Ethiopia are currently planned between the universities. A survey on migration and fertility is expected to begin in May and another on a region in northern Ethiopia in January 1999.