In Ethiopia, family planning increasingly an article of faith
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - Religious figures have been preaching the gospel of family planning here in Africa‘s second most populous nation. The result: a whittling of the fertility rate, and a leap in contraceptive use.
In Ethiopia, where the population is devout and widely scattered, local religious figures exercise far more authority than government officials or the young female health workers they send out across the country.
The poverty and high mortality rates in many communities have led to an unusual level of support for contraception among Ethiopia’s religious leaders. Pastors, priests, and imams are paving the way for the birth control that the government is making available for pennies.
It is a pragmatism born of problems with poverty that don’t exist in many Western countries. Religious leaders are now seen as one of the most powerful tools in development workers’ hands across sub-Saharan Africa, from Kenya to the Ivory Coast to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.