Latest census report on Amhara people sparks controversy for the second time

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MP tells commission to apologize to the Amhara people

The Population and Housing Census Commission unveiled the latest inter-census result regarding the population size of Amhara and Addis Ababa, each recording 19,210,804 and 2,991,999 respectively.

According to the report, the total population of Ethiopia in May stood at 82,642,486.

The latest report was presented to the House of Peoples’ Representatives on Thursday by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education; Demeke Mekonnen, Chairman of the Population and Housing Census Commission; and Samiya Zekaria, Director General of Central Statistical Agency,

The new report came after the House ordered the commission six years ago to recount the Amhara and Addis Ababa populations, following the much disputed 2008 results which were contentious and lower than earlier predictions made in 2006. It was also recalled that it led to the unusual situation of MPs from the then ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), partner with opposition groups to mount a strong protest against the census.

The Commission had reported in 2008 that the Amhara state’s population stood at 17.2 million, coming well short of the 19.6 million projection estimated for the region in 2006.

Similarly, the same result had shown that census unveiled Addis Ababa at 2.7 million, while it put the national population at 77 million, which was reportedly below both international organizations’ estimates.

According to Demeke, since 2008 the population size of Amhara had risen by 2.3 percent per year, to make the total population 19.2 million in the month of May last year. Meanwhile, the total population recorded a 2.99 million increase in the same reported period, with an annual growth rate of 2.1 percent.

“Among the contentious issues that contribute to inefficiency and a lack of transparency in the result of the Amhara population, the main factor to this inconvenience is that the annual rate of population growth was found well short of the national rate of growth (1.73 percent). But in this latest research, it was able to achieve that the annual growth rate of Amhara is 2.4 percent, which is more or less compatible to the national annual growth rate (2.3 percent),” Demeke told the House.

According to the Chairman, the latest inter-census’s sample research of population was able to include internal migration as one factor in the process of evidence gathering, not used in the earlier national census. This helped to correct any impacts on the general census.

However, one Member of Parliament, Tinfu Muchie, expressed that the last census result, lowering the Amhara population size, had had a negative impact.

“Honorable Samiya, as you remember, last time you reported for this parliament and giving you justification that one reason that made Amhara population lower than the earlier forecast is death rate. When you explain the death rate you told us HIV/AIDS is rampant among Amhara people. That was a mistake! It might be an epidemic, or it might be a war or anything else,” he challenged the Deputy PM and the Director General.

“Now it may not be necessary to say more about it for the time being. It could have been simple to generalize that it was just death. It was here where the mistake was made so you need to apologize. Amhara people were not exclusively given HIV/AIDS epidemics separately from other regions. It should not have been answered in this way,” he said.

Regarding the increased rate, Tinfu added that it is not appropriate to conclude such kinds of population growth rate in the Amhara population, which is not seen even in Scandinavian nations.

“Just when we are calculating the difference in between the 2008 growth rate (1.7 percent), and the latest one (2.73 percent), we can conclude that at least 969,000 people have been left without budget for the past six years. At least nine or ten Woredas are forced to suffer budget shortage…so the Commission’s officials must be accountable for the mistake which caused the people not to be able to eat their cakes or slices of bread,” he said.

Another MP said that it is difficult for him to accept the report presented by the Commission.

“Based on the growth rate presented in this report, which is 2.3 percent, the population of Amhara is around 22 million, so it is difficult for to accept this report.” he said.

However, Samiya defended it by saying that the last result was accurate. Rather she said that the problem lies in the earlier forecasts made in 2006, before the national census, which was conducted in 2008. Samiya neither accepted nor rejected the call for an apology.

Demeke also explained the contention in support of Semiya’s argument.

Source : The Reporter