Background: The Ethiopian government promulgated its first ever explicit, comprehensive and multisectoral population policy in 1993. The policy aimed at harmonizing population growth rate with that of the economy and the capacity of the country for sustainable socio-economic development. As with any population policy, there are important lessons to be learnt from the problems and challenges encountered during its implementation.
Objective: The paper assesses the extent to which the population policy objectives have been realized; highlights the successes registered and identifies challenges encountered in its implementation and proposes the way forward.
Methodology: Trend analysis using secondary data from censuses, surveys and UN sources were used and policy documents, research findings, development plan and program reports reviewed.
Results: Fertility, infant, under-five and maternal mortality have declined significantly. Female participation in education and labour force increased. A range of legal, policy and institutional frameworks have been developed and implemented on environmental security and on gender equity, equality and the empowerment of women. Legislative measures were also taken to remove harmful traditional practices. However, the pace of implementation has been slow and there are areas where not much progress was made.
Conclusion: Despite the progress made, there are critical challenges. Failure to establish the National Population Council; weak coordination and institutional arrangement due to absence of legally defined structure for implementation, lack of monitoring and evaluation system, absence of a comprehensive population program and financial constraints, among others are the major barriers. There is need to revise the policy and address these impediments and continuing and evolving challenges.