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A Brief History

Located at the foothills of the Entoto Mountains Addis Ababa remains an accidental
capital of a land-locked nation, having saved itself from eternal oblivion by the
introduction a century ago, of a new source of fuel the Eucalyptus. Its founding was
preceded by decades, even centuries, of wandering capitals whose fate seemed tied
to ability to access wood, yes wood, in nearby locations both as fuel source and for
construction. It is the third highest capital in the world.
At the start of the 21st century, it remains a vibrant space with the biggest open market
in Africa Mercato and as the permanent seat of the African Union (AU) and the
Economic commission for Africa (ECA). It is probably the most egalitarian capital city
in the world where the rich co-mingle with the down-trodden with apparent ease, the
latter holding no grudge toward the former.
Individual differences exist, but in general, the phrase Ye Addis Ababa Lij, conjures
an image of an eternal optimist atop the list of groups/individuals refusing allegiance to
population classifications based on immutable divisive thought processes, choosing
instead, almost by default, a path of collaboration, understanding, empathy, and
equality. He/she has a friend whose parents belong to an ethnic, linguistic, etc, group
that is "different" than his/hers, but feels enriched by such friendships and
experiences. His/her selection of a life-long partner is also informed by such choices.
A Welcome to Addis Ababa web site [1] begins by introducing the nation and delves
quickly into the affairs of Addis with statements such:
"It is a safe capital"
"It is the diplomatic capital of Africa",
Although there are obviously wealthier and poorer areas, lines are not sharply drawn
Street names could be confusing and most people including taxi drivers, rely on
directions where a place is near
Must-see spots include, Mount Entoto and the churches of Raguel and Mariam,
Ethnographic Museum of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, National Archeology
Museum where Lucy is housed, Mercato, A natural history museum behind Mesqal
Square, a number of art galleries and souvenir shops with a caution that in Ethiopia,
prices are negotiable.
Ethiopian Demography and Health
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The Addis Ababa city administrations millennium report adds the following [2]:
The city was founded in 1887 (1879 Ethiopian Calendar). The Addis Ababa City
Municipality was established in 1915 in order to collect taxes from its residents, and in
order to accommodate and provide proper services to guests from abroad and has
had 28 mayors. It is believed that, among the earliest causes attracting visitors to the
city was its unique standing as the capital of an African nation that defeated a
European power. The publication gives due mention to the role of Empress Taitu in the
early development of the city. Early neighborhood formation saw the curving of areas
around the main palace according to ownership rights given to prominent individuals
including .Ras Mekonnen, Ras Tessema, Ras Birru, Ras Seyoum, Fitawarari
Hebetegiorgis, Dejazmach Wube, Negadras Hailegorgis, Dejazmach Zewedu
Abbakoran and Shegole (named after Assosas chief, Sheik Hojele).
Addis Ababas growth was fanned by in-migrations from rural origins starting early in
its existence and it began its rise to megacity status between 1967 and 1975 when
rural to urban migration in Ethiopia was at its peak [3]. Various estimates put the
current population size at 3 and 5 million. Although official statistics put its population
size at 2.8 million in July 2004, most authorities on the subject tend to hold the view
that the most acceptable estimate of the size of its inhabitants is not less than 3.5
million. There are projections that this figure will increase to 12 million within 20 years.
[4]. The CSA reported a total population count of 2.7 million for the census year of
2007. Click lesson 2 (Population Data Sources) in the Table of Contents page to
learn about the 2007 Ethiopian census results and its shortcomings which appear to
have grossly under reported the population numbers in Addis Ababa and Amhara .
An online source featuring a year 2004 study in the city, gave the following
observations and results [4]
All over the city, the poor, the middle income and the rich live side by side in apparent
"Most international estimates put the proportion of the citys population that is living in
rundown and slum settlements as one of the highest in the world
Housing requirements were met by erection of substandard structures and shelters in
years prior to the 1974 revolution.
Housing shortages in the city went from bad to worse following the revolution and the
nationalization of urban housing and land in 1975.
A housing policy (the first of its kind) was announced on 1986.
Following the overthrow of the Derg regime, a new market-based plan was issued but
housing was not denationalized and ownership of land remained firmly under
Government control
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Addis Ababa is suffering from a housing deficit of no less than 250,000 units.
Over 80% of the homes are Chika houses made of mud walls and wood.
The total road length in the city is 1,329.59 kms, just less than a third of which is
asphalted and city buses, taxis and private cars altogether cover only 30 percent of
the total urban mobility. [5]. The rest is covered on foot. There is massive congestion,
regardless; especially, during peak travel hours. Over three quarters of the estimated
130,000 vehicles in the country (1998) were located in Addis Ababa [5]. Moreover, the
high unemployment rate, the rising household size and the low income level negatively
affect the demand for motorized transport. City bus transport is the second cheapest
mode of transport next to walking. The fact that the revenue it generates doesn't cover
its costs and that even the subsidized fares are unaffordable to the majority of the
citizens are the major challenge. [5]. The chaotic mix of bad roads, improper vehicle
handling, vague pedestrian right-of-way rules, and absence of pedestrian sidewalks
have meant that fatal crashes are very common. A news report from March 2005 gave
a causality figure of 34 traffic deaths, 46 major injuries, 115 lighter injuries, and a
property damage estimate of more than 5 million Birr, all in one month [6].
The Theory of Demographic Transition suggests a firm link between socioeconomic
development and a reduction in fertility. However, Addis Ababa has assumed the
distinct honor of a place where fertility has declined below the replacement level of two
births per woman, not in response to development but due to lack of socioeconomic
progress, or put simply, as a result of deepening poverty [7]. The most direct links (also
referred to as proximate determinants) include reduction in marriage rates as couples
find it hard to form unions in view of absent housing and jobs to sustain a marriage, an
increase in the proportion of never married women, reduction in premarital fertility,
rising age at marriage, delayed child bearing, longer birth intervals, and contraception.
The research by Lindstrom and Woubalem identified the relative contribution of
the various demographic components underlying the fertility decline in Addis Ababa
and confirmed the importance of changes in marriage and marital fertility. They
singled out change in nonmarital fertility as a key component of fertility decline in
AddisAbaba. [7]
Contrary to reports of rising premarital fertility in other sub-Saharan African countries, we find that the rise in the
proportion of women not married in Addis Ababa has been accompanied by a decline in nonmarital fertility rather
than an increase. We suspect that high social and economic costs of single motherhood combined with increased
use of contraception and abortion are the primary factors behind the decline in nonmarital fertility. The
significant difference in the fertility rates for all women compared to married women is an indication of the
importance of nonmarriage in accounting for the low total fertility rate in Addis Ababa [7]
The following observations based on the year 2005 Demographic and Health Survey
in the city [8] demonstrate the continued demographic uniqueness of the city, not just
in its below-replacement fertility but in other respects as well. The numbers for Addis
Ababa are, in most cases, the highest or lowest in the country depending on what is
being measured.
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More on Addis Ababa's Demography:
Population data (census 2007):
There are a number of ways of examining the accuracy of the 2007 census in Addis
Ababa. For example, a cursory look at the age data reveals problems with the very first
two age groups (0-4 and 5-9) reported for the city on the Central Statistical Authority's
web site (9). Given the universally higher sex ratio at birth the observation of more
males than female children in the 0-4 age group is expected. However, the proportions
are reversed in the next higher age group (5-9) with females outnumbering males by a
big margin (see the age pyramid below). It is difficult to attribute this to the default
explanation of gender differentials in migration because 5 to 9 year-olds don't migrate
to the city (on their own), and parents/guardians who bring children into the city for
permanent of temporary migration are not known to selectively leave boys behind.

Source: Own drawing based on [9]
In general, even though the bulge in the mid section is expected in view of higher
migration rates of young adults to urban centers of the country in general and Addis
Ababa in particular, the sudden shrinkage in the 30-34 age group and all age groups
north of it can only be an artifact of data error and points to the possibility of a massive
undercount. The shape of the pyramid is not expected. Click on the "calculate
demographic rates" link to access the online tools we have provided for the
construction of a population pyramid.
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Ethnic composition:
The map below is self-explanatory, and shows the ethnic background of the city's
residents as self-reported by individual respondents at the 2007 census.

Source: Own drawing based on [9]

Recreational Services and the Informal Sector
A specialized census focusing on recreational establishments in the city identified a
total of 15,436 such places. The main objective of the project was to conduct a census
of the city's commercial sex workers as part of HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. The
census was conducted between February 7, 2002 and 18th of March 2002.The
recreational establishments included Araki bet/house, bars/restaurants, Borde
bet/house, Brothels, coffee houses, liquor stores, kebeb, pastry shops, Redlight
houses, Shiro bet/house, snack shops, tella bet/house, and zig chilot,. "The primary
role of most establishments was to serve food and drinks, with the exception of
red-light houses and some araki bets that were intended to sell sex" (10). The
following are based on the publication of survey results entitled "Mapping and Census
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of Female Sex Workers in Addis Ababa Ethiopia" (10):
** Nearly 35% of the 15,436 establishments identified were tella bets
** "Tella and shiro bets were primarily residential houses for low-income
socioeconomic communities but they were also used to prepare and sell
tella/shiro as a source of income for family support". "The owners of these
establishments and/or their daughters served as waitresses" and did not have
business licenses.
** The sex worker census identified a total of 8134 sex workers, much lower than
previous estimates which put the number at more that one hundred thousand.
Nearly two thirds of the sex workers are in the age group of 15 to 24. "Nearly 87%
were found in hotels, bars and red-light houses."
** Among the study's conclusions are that "poverty and sex work were linked".
Demographic summary
The following observations based on the year 2005 Demographic and Health Survey
in the city [8] demonstrate the continued demographic uniqueness of the city, not just
in its below-replacement fertility but in other respects as well. The numbers for Addis
Ababa are, in most cases, the highest or lowest in the country depending on what is
being measured.
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1. http://www.ilo.og/english/region/afpro/abidjan/arm/welcome.pdf
2. Addis Ababa in the Past and Prospects in the new millennium. Addis Ababa
Millennium Secretariat. 2007.
4. Solomon Mulugeta and Ruth McLeod. Feasibility Study for the Application of
Community-Led Infrastructure Finance Facility (CLIFF) Operations in Ethiopia.
Homeless International. 2004.
7. David P. Lindstrom and Zewdu Woubalem. The Demographic Components of
Fertility Decline in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: A Decomposition Analysis. Genus, LIX (No,
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3-4), !47-158.
8. Central Statistical Authority and ORC Marco, Demographic and Health Survey,
2005. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Calverton, Maryland, USA. 2006.
10. Family Health International (FHI) Ethiopia and Addis Ababa City Administration
Health Bureau (AACAHB). Mapping and Census of Female Sx Workers in Addis
Ababa Ethiopia. August 2002.
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