Integrating Population and Environment into Family Planning Initiatives: Qualitative research in the Blue Nile Headwaters region, Ethiopia
Ethiopia counts itself among the developing countries most severely affected by its own changing environment. With an economy that is heavily dependent on agriculture, the country's rapidly growing population has put enormous strain on the highland ecosystems responsible for the majority of crop production. The Blue Nile (Abay) Basin–a watershed that provides nearly half of the Nile River's water–is a critical region for both Ethiopian agriculture and the wellbeing of the millions who depend on the Nile for sustenance in Sudan and Egypt. Pressure exerted on the Abay's ecosystem by a growing population threatens regional political stability, the national economy and the health of local communities. In order to explore the complex dynamic between I propose conducting qualitative research on how environmental initiatives can be integrated with family planning programs to improve both human and ecosystem health in this critical region. To accomplish this, I will train local data collectors to conduct indepth interviews and focus groups with local community members and key stakeholders; and I will analyze the data and present my findings for publication as well as to the local community. These findings will inform the design of a future family planning and environmental sustainability intervention.