Ethiopia will seek to rein in its population growth by bringing its people's fertility rate down to 2.6 percent in 2020 from 4.1 percent at present, a government official has said.
"With 90 million people, Ethiopia is the most populous state in Sub-Saharan Africa," Berhane Assefa, a family planning service coordinator at the Ministry of Health, said.
"The country has been engaged in a strong family planning campaign since 2000 to achieve the same goal [bringing the fertility rate down]," he told The Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
He said in 2000, only 6 percent of childbearing age mothers benefited from the service, but now this figure had risen to 42 percent.
"This is a drastic change that has been made between 2000 and 2014," Assefa said.
The Ethiopian Health Ministry says a large percentage of the population in Ethiopia has good knowledge of contraception and birth control methods.
The ministry adds in one of its documents that three in every ten currently married women (almost 30 percent) use a method of contraception.
It notes that injectables are by far the most popular modern method, being used by around 21 percent of currently married women.
Assefa said his ministry had a plan to increase the percentage of Ethiopian citizens benefitting from family planning services to 54 percent in 2020 from 42 percent at present.
He said the government was working on ushering in the necessary materials and skilled manpower to achieve this goal.
So far more than 20,000 health workers had received training in offering birth control services across Ethiopia.
Nevertheless, many challenges lie ahead, including some Ethiopian youths who say they cannot find the contraceptives they prefer and others who do not like to visit health facilities that offer birth control services, according to Assefa.
"The ministry works to make the service youth-friendly in collaboration with the ministries of education, and women, children and youth Affairs as well as with partner organizations with the aim of narrowing the gap," Assefa said.
He said the Health Ministry had also sought to get religious leaders engaged in the new drive.
"We engaged religious leaders to convince men to change their negative attitude toward family planning services," Assefa said.
Despite this, some Ethiopian men encourage their wives to benefit from family planning services and express readiness to use male contraceptives.
Assefa says, however, empowering women will be key to the success of Ethiopia in achieving its goal of halting its population explosion.