People flee clashes near the Aden international airport in Aden, Yemen, on March 25, 2015. The Shiite Houthi group took control over Aden international airport after the retreat of tribal militia on Wednesday evening, a security official told Xinhua. (Xinhua)
People flee clashes near the Aden international airport in Aden, Yemen, on March 25, 2015. The Shiite Houthi group took control over Aden international airport after the retreat of tribal militia on Wednesday evening, a security official told Xinhua. (Xinhua)

Recent security challenges have led the Ethiopian government to postpone the implementation of Ethiopia’s major national socioeconomic and political plan.

The East African country, which recently postponed local elections for a margin of one year period as security related challenges hamper the necessary preparations, has on Monday delayed the fourth National Population and Housing Census for next year.

The latest decision to postpone the National Population and Housing Census by the joint session of the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives and House of Federation on Monday is the second time that the country has postponed the census, which is expected to be held every 10-year.

Even though security challenges are not currently active in Ethiopia, recent inter-ethnic clashes and incessant violent anti-government demonstrations have led to the postponement of the census that was initially scheduled to take place in October 2017, before it was postponed twice including the one on Monday.

Recent border conflicts along Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regional states was previously said to be the major reason behind the postponement of the two national plans, in which figures from the Ethiopian government showed that some 710,662 people have been displaced as a result of the border dispute among nationals of the two regional states.

Incessant mass anti-government demonstrations that rocked the East African country since the second half of 2016 in parts of the country, which in some occasions turned to be violent, have also said to be another security challenge for the postponement of the two national tasks.

According to Yalew Abate, speaker of the Ethiopian House of Federation, challenges attributed to recent unrests in parts of the country have affected the country’s preparation in various ways.

Abate further stressed that the postponement of the census “would help to obtain reliable and quality data regarding Ethiopia’s current states of affairs.”

The decision to extend the fourth National Population and Housing Census was made amid the recent announcement by the Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency (CSA), which undertakes the census, concerning the success of its preparations.

Officials at the CSA recently told Xinhua that Ethiopia will, for the first time, apply a modern population and housing census procedure, which includes the use of mobile tablets for data collection.

The Agency further disclosed that close to 180,000 tablets have been purchased from Chinese technology giants, Huawei and Lenovo, to conduct the census. Effectiveness of the products had been also tested and approved by the agency.

The two companies have provided 90,000 mobile tablets each as per the agreement made between the two Chinese companies and the Ethiopian Public Procurement and Property Disposal Services.
Experts at the CSA also told Xinhua that the use of mobile tablet technologies in the data collection procedure will ease the census process by establishing effective data registration system so as to avoid duplication and double counting.

The postponement of national census followed the Ethiopian House of Peoples and Representatives (HPR), Ethiopian parliament’s lower house, recent decision to postpone local elections for a similar period due to security related challenges that, in some occasions, led citizens to forced displacement.

According to the motion presented to the HPR, despite the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia’s attempt to realize the necessary prerequisites to undertake the election in its scheduled timeline, “security challenges that were consistently observed in different parts of the country have affected preparations to effectively conduct the elections.”

The local elections that were previously scheduled to be held during the 2017-2018 Ethiopian fiscal year has now postponed to the 2018-2019 fiscal year, with majority support from members of the parliament.

The postponed elections are mainly conducted in Ethiopia’s two self-administered municipals and their surroundings that are the capital Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, which are the two largest cities of Ethiopia respectively.

Ethiopia’s second largest city, Dire Dawa, located along the border of Ethiopia’s largest regional states Oromia and Somali were affected by sporadic ethnic disputes over the delineation of the two ethnic groups’ common boundary. Enditem

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