Poverty in Ethiopia, 1980-2000 The Malthusian Process

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Ibrahim Yousif, Abdalla
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The importance of this study stems from its handling the deterioration of food security, the repeatation famines in Ethiopia and the increase at the level of poverty. It aims at exposing the obstacles which face the elimination of poverty and famine; and also knowing the sources of these obstacles; this includes knowing whether these obstacles result from the scarcity of arable lands, the lack of appropriate planning for some, the state of political instability in country or a result of all the above causes combined together. The study used the descriptive-analytic approach for the collection of the secondary data from the reports of the economic institutions and the other government sources. The study, then, focused on the study at the famine which Ethiopia witnessed in the period 1972/1974 – 1982/1985 and the increase brunt in the Northern and Eastern provinces. Wollo northern province was taken as a case study; as it was mostly affected and was considered a nucleus for the revolution which ended the Halle Selassie regime in 1974. The study confirmed that the main cause of the famine in Ethiopia in 1972/74 is the failure of two successive agricultural seasons in (Wollo) province. But; what aggravated the situation even more is the difficulty of the delivery of food relief to this province; because of the rough roads and the attacks of the Eritrean separalist forces from the neighbouring provinces. In addition, there was the block-out of any news about the famine by the government before and at time of its occurrence. The (1982 – 1985) famine is an extension of the impact of (1972 - 1974) famine. The mostly affected province in the former period was (Hararge) province, in the east of Ethiopia. This had aggravated the border dispute between the Ethiopian and the Somali governments over Ogadin. This conflict occurred from (1977/78) to (1980/81). Over and above, there was the conflict within the military system itself (the Derg regime), and its occupation with the tenth anniversary of the fall of the old system of (Halle Selassie), the increase of the civil war in the peripheries of the country and the weakness of the Ethiopian economic infrastructure to confront these crisis. The study also exposed the agricultural lands tenure system of Ethiopia, its problems and the needs which led to the distribution of lands to farmers. It also described the change which occurred in the Ethiopian rural areas a result of this event, in addition to the development of economic and human fields in the period (1974/1991) and the changes which occurred through the adoption of the market economy system. The researcher found out that famine and poverty from which Ethiopia suffers, are basically related to the narrowness of the available agricultural lands, the obstacle of the use of modern technology, political instability, the ardent civil war and the conflicts with the neighbouring states from time to time. Despite all this, Ethiopia entered into the stage of comprehensive development since 1974. Thus, the land distribution was the first sign which contributed, to some degree, in the mitigation of poverty. The second was the adoption of the market economy system in 1992, which linked the Ethiopian community with the world. Each of these stages change was considered better than the previous one. The study concluded by the comparison of the level of economic and human poverty in Ethiopia, with those of Sudan, Egypt and Kenya, in relation to the adopted policy in these three states, the agricultural lands areas, the population density, and the population growth rate, and level of the share per capita in the national income, and adult illiteracy proportion, the study reveals (shows) the Ethiopia has the highest rate in population growth, and in adult illiteracy rate, and in child mortality rates and has the lowest level of the share per capita of the national income. The study recommended to the Ethiopian Government to find alternative economic sources than the agricultural sector, focus on human development, the exploitation of natural resources, the positive openness and good relation with the neighbouring states and the enhancement of educational syllabus and reinforcing them by benefiting from those of the neighbouring states