Conference name, dates, place

International Conference on Development Studies in Ethiopia, July 11-12, 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Document Type


Presentation Date



Today, the world knows Ethiopia for its abject poverty, war, drought and severe HIV/AIDS prevalence. For these problems, many causes can be mentioned. Some of these are poor or underutilization of the available resources, Lack of good governance, lack of vision, lack of determination and commitment, absence of transparency and accountability. Equally, the inability to use the youth as a key development tool is the formidable cause for remaining in abject poverty. Due to these various reasons, we could not actualize this potential (youth) in to reality (for fighting poverty and achieving sustainable development). In developing countries like Ethiopia, the key role and importance of the youth in fighting poverty and reversing the prevailing adverse trends in all aspects (for instance, in halting HIV/AIDS, alleviating poverty and perennial hunger, maintaining democracy and establishing good governance and achieving sustainable development) is hardly realized. The youth, which constitute a large portion of the population (28.2%), are living in abject poverty and ignorance. They also lack up to date and relevant information in various social, economic, and more importantly on the effect of HIV/AIDS. Nevertheless, the youth can reverse this trend, as they are pillars for sustainable development. They can potentially alleviate economic and social problems of the country. Despite this fact, they have received scant attention from the society. In Ethiopia, knowingly or unknowingly, the youth are the most forgotten, misunderstood and underutilized human element (development resource). Yet, the society largely puts all the blame on the youth for all the problems that prevail in the country. Paradoxically enough, the society expects much from the youth, while holding uncritical biases and negative attitudes towards them. The Government is now on the threshold of building a better understanding of the potential power of the youth to stand in front of poverty and other social problems. This consciousness has now resulted in the official foundation of Ethiopian National Youth Charter in December of this year. It seems that the government has clearly understood that a country can develop hardly without active involvement of the youth. The writer of this paper has started with the following assumption. To fight poverty and perennial hunger, and thereby to achieve sustainable development, a nation should invest in the human element, particularly, the youth. In order to reap good harvest we have to invest on the youth since investing in the youth means investing for change. Indeed, investing on the youth is investment to make a better future. It is a real fact that in a country like Ethiopia, the youth can make a real difference. But, to materialize the above assumption, first and foremost the society should value the youth, understand their needs and interests, empower them to participate in the poverty and hunger fighting campaign and the struggle for halting the spread of HIV/AIDS. It is also important to enhance and enrich their initiative and creativity in order to find answers to the precarious problems of the country by and by. It is only when the youth are educated and transformed in to productive labor power and well-cultured citizens that they can commit themselves to their wellbeing as well as the overall welfare of their society. Thus, primarily this paper aims at elucidating the place and the role of the youth in fighting poverty, perennial hunger and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. Since only youth know better about themselves and their problems, the paper makes the information extracted from the youth a source (its information base) for the argument. Based on the available data, and implications of practical personal insight observations and experiences the paper would try to address the intricated problems of the youth from broader perspectives.