Drivers to have more children in the pastoralist communities of Afar, Ethiopia: an explorative qualitative study
Background: Parents from pastoralist communities of Ethiopia often do have more children, thus high fertility. However, little is known about its drivers.
Objective: This study aimed to explore the drivers to have more children in the pastoralist communities of Afar, Ethiopia.
Methods: An exploratory qualitative study was carried out in January 2016 in five districts of Afar region to discover the drivers to have more children in the pastoralist communities. Participants were purposively selected based on their potential to provide extensive information. Ten focus group discussions were conducted among selected married men and women in five districts of the region. Following the focus group discussions, 45 key informant interviews were conducted among selected community leaders (clan, kebele and religious leaders), traditional birth attendants, health extension workers, health workers, experts from health and womenâ€™s affairs offices, and representatives of Non-governmental Organizations working in the region. Semi-structured guides were used to facilitate the discussions and in-depth interviews. Data were coded and analyzed using Atlas.ti software version 7.5. Data were coded and similar codes organized into categories. Peer debriefing and triangulation of data from focus group discussants and key informants were undertaken to enhance the reliability of the data.
Results: The study findings revealed that most commonly cited drivers to have more children in the pastoralist communities of Afar are preference of husbands for more children; considering children as family wealth, potential workforces to share family workload, future leaders to safeguard the family and the clan, and seeking respect among wives; sex preference; and fear of child death.
Conclusions: The desire to have more children in the pastoralist communities of Afar implies low demand for fertility regulation measures. To address this issue, sustained health education focusing on the orientations that consider more children as wealth, the consequences of high fertility and the benefits of fertility regulation are recommended. Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2018;32(Special Issue):21-27]
Keywords: Fertility, Family planning, Afar, pastoral community, Ethiopia