Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 277–296 | Cite as

Participatory Demographic Scenarios Addressing Uncertainty and Transformative Change in Ethiopia

  • Atsede D. Tegegne
  • Marianne PenkerEmail author
  • Maria Wurzinger
Original Paper


Projections on future population trends provide important decision support, however are confronted with high uncertainty. In contexts of low data quality, missing and contradicting knowledge on drivers of change, such as in many developing countries, participatory scenarios can support the quality of assumptions needed for quantitative projections. We present a scenario approach designed for contexts of uncertain and missing demographic data and illiteracy, which was successfully tested in three study sites in North-West Ethiopia. The four qualitative scenarios for 2030 supported the inter-subjective definition of assumptions for the calculations, which were again validated by members of the rural communities. We argue that the participation process has resulted in more robust and context-specific projections. The collaborative work on the local drivers of demographic change between science and society provided a valuable space for social learning, so that local stakeholders could identify the need for and scope of local mitigation or adaptation measures to demographic transformation.


Participatory scenarios Population projections Transformative change Uncertainty Community research Knowledge integration Social learning Ethiopia 2030 



This study was carried out as part of the TRANSACT project, funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation under the framework of APPEAR (Austrian Partnership Program in Higher Education and Research for Development). The authors gratefully acknowledge the scenario team members and all the participants in the workshops, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. We are also grateful for the anonymous reviews.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and Social SciencesBOKU, University of Natural Resources and Life SciencesViennaAustria
  2. 2.Centre for Development ResearchBOKU, University of Natural Resources and Life SciencesViennaAustria

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