The Decennial Census in Ethiopia is Postponed for the Second Time


Abbay Media News
Yassin Ibrahim

The nationwide decennial census in Ethiopia has been postponed for the second time, ESAT reported. The census that is conducted every ten years counts the population, the number of households and homes all over Ethiopia. The decennial census is mandated by the Ethiopian constitution, Article 103 section 5 and was due this October 2017.

It is a violation of the constitution not to execute census unless and until the supreme law of the land is amended. According to ESAT sources, the decision to delay the census was decided by the central committee of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominant force in the foursome ruling coalition called  Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The excuse offered to the public is, the current unstable condition is not conducive to allow conducting such a serious task as national census and doing so may bring more crisis than there is now. However, sources tell a different story than that provided by the official media. They say the true reason is the disappearance of the 180 thousand tablet computers and other materials worth more than a billion Birr.

The budget set for the decennial census was 3 billion and it appears most of it is lost through corruption. According to sources familiar with the census budget the government fears that uncovering the source of corruption will add fuel to the current volatile situation in Ethiopia where mass uprisings are once again occurring in towns like Sululta, which are close to the capital, Addis Ababa.

In a country where ethnicity drives the policy decision making, conducting census is a politically charged affair.  The interpretation of the census data is often skewed to serve the political agenda of the ruling parties and may have a significant effect on the life of the society who might be purposely targeted to either lose or gain.

In one of the past decennial census for example, two million Amharas were unaccounted for by the very admission of the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia.