Key Points

• As of 2008, an estimated 41% of all pregnancies in Ethiopia were unintended. Unintended pregnancy is lowest in Somali (9%) and highest in Addis Ababa (72%), where motivation to have small families is strongest.

• More than seven in 10 women who want to avoid pregnancy either do not practice contraception or use a relatively ineffective traditional method. These women can be said to have an unmet need for modern contraception.

• Meeting just half of this unmet need would result in 754,000 fewer unintended pregnancies each year, leading to 178,000 fewer unsafe abortions and 3,300 fewer maternal deaths.

• If all unmet need for modern methods were satisfied, maternal mortality would drop by almost one-third from current levels, and unplanned births and unsafe abortions would decline by 89–92%.

• Investing in contraceptive commodities and services to fulfill all unmet need among women wanting to avoid pregnancy would result in a net annual savings of US$34 million (314 million Ethiopian birr) over what would otherwise be spent on medical costs associated with unintended pregnancies and their consequences.

• Expanding contraceptive services confers substantial benefits on women, their families and society. All stakeholders, including the Ethiopian government and the private sector, should increase their investment in modern contraceptive services. Particular attention should be paid to reducing inequalities in access.