Are Wolaitans among the most impovrished people in Ethiopia? What is Wrong with Wolaita or Wolaitans? By Chuchu Abe


A kid from Wolaita doing Listro or Shoe Shine

While the centeral Ethiopian government claims steady economic growth and improved living conditions over  the past 10 years,  many Ethiopians  believe that the report applies only for the smallest proportions of Ethiopian poupulation, mostly the elites or the  already haves.  It has become customary to read contradicting reports about the number of starving peopole looking for emergency foods, from the government sources and some non governmental organizations in Ethiopia. The worst part of the story is that, it is the same regions which are striken by serious draughts and malnutrion year after year.

The southern parts of Borena, Dolo, Centeral, South and South Eastern regions of SNNP, and South Eastern  Somali are among the most frequently reported draught zones in Ethiopia. In the centeral South, Wolaita is famous not only for exotic body dance, but also for extreme poverty and malnutrion. A report made by Josha Project, a non governmental humanitarian organization claims that Wolaita people are some of the poorest people in Ethiopia as well as in the entire world. The majority of the population lives in rural areas. Livelihoods of the same percent are based on agriculture (farming & animal rearing). The agricultural activities are practiced using archaic and backward hand tools. Land shortage (0.3 hectare per house hold), environmental degradation due to natural and man-made factors, loss of land fertility due to prolonged cultivation, are major problems among others that resulted in low agricultural productivity and yielding which has led to food deficiency. Nearly half the population suffers from food shortage. Per capita income is about $98 and much of the population is below poverty line. Low education coverage, poor health services, poor infrastructures development, lack of potable water supply, unfair distribution of resources by the central government are some problems among others that has caused this scenario. While the government is always skepetical about such kinds of claims and has always banned or hidden similar reports, the realty is undeniable. Many Wolaitans migrate to  the nearest cities to survive the economic burden. Teenage girls who can’t afford to go to school and make a living in their homes migrate to near cities to become maids.  Teenage boys may be  some times under 10, migrate to cities to work as a shoe shines, lottery dealers  if sucessful or become labor workers  in many cases. In extreme cases, the children end up in streets.  Most of Ethiopian cities near to  Addis Ababa and Awassa are flooded by  migrant children from the same area. What is more embarrasing is that when most of the children from same family migrate fo cities looking for better living conditions, their aging familys endup helpless. While the centeral government has always tried to cover the true story of the scenario, the reality is showing up its face, and it would be quite normal to quest, what is wrong with Wolaita or Wolaitans?

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