Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How many orphans in Ethiopia?

Ever since we started telling people of our plans to adopt from Ethiopia, we have had a lot of questions from friends and family. I enjoy getting these questions, it shows you are interested. Sometimes; however, I don't have the answer handy, and have to go look it up.

One of the more common questions is "Just how many orphans are there in Ethiopia?." This is not really an easy question to answer because accurate statistics are not available. In 2005, UNICEF estimated the total number of orphans to be 4.8 MILLION children. I can't find a solid number that is any newer then that, but I have seen several conservative estimates that this may now be as high as 6 million. These are orphans by "any cause" although the majority of these are due to HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and many other chronic illnesses in the United States.

Now, let's put this into perspective. Six million children is the just about the same number of children living in New York State (4.5M), Massachusetts(1.4M), AND the District of Columbia (100K). Imagine removing all parents and adults from these three states. In 2006, there were 75 million people in Ethiopia. This would mean that roughly 8% of the population are orphans. That is one in twelve children.

One more comparison. By no means, do I mean to belittle the orphan situation in the United States. It is a crises as well, but to compare, the U.S. Census estimates from 2001 show 2.9 Million orphans from a population of 300 Million people. This is just under 1% or less then 1 in 100 children are orphans in the United States. One last caveat on the U.S. Numbers. I had a hard time finding a number of orphans. 2.9 Million is the number of children living with zero parents. It includes children living with grandparents, relatives, non-relatives, orphanages, and even living on their own.

Here are some links I found useful in doing this research:

UNICEF information on Ethiopia: http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/child/p70-104.pdf

U.S. Census data
esp. The report on children:
and this report on # of children by state:

Wikipedia page on Ethiopia

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