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Historical first as Ethiopia gears up for a more inclusive digital census, with UNFPA support

GAMBELLA REGION, Ethiopia—Getting women to use family planning at Tierkidi refugee camp was something of a challenge because their husbands believed that it meant their wives would be seeing other men. “We teach women to use family planning and they accept [this], but not the husbands,” said Peter Lam Gony, a community mobilizer at Tierkidi.

We teach women to use family planning and they accept [this], but not the husbands.

Despite this obstacle, the health centre is serving women daily with family planning services. And more and more women are using the Health Centre to ensure safe delivery of their babies since the doors opened in May 2014.

The centre, run by the Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA), also provides family planning, antenatal care, and postnatal care to the refugees. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, supports these activities at the camps through the provision of emergency reproductive health kits.

A midwife at the Health Centre, Mathias Melesse, confirmed that adolescents are also accessing family planning services. Some approach them confidently, while for those who don’t, the midwives have learned to read their body languages, Ms. Mathias said.

“This injection will only prevent pregnancy, not HIV,” they tell to women taking the injectable contraceptive, through an interpreter. “So when you have intercourse, you will need to use a condom.”

Some sexual and reproductive health workers, like 17-year-old Nyakong Paul, carry condoms in their bags as they travel through the communities as part of their daily routine. “I tell boys and girls to use condoms,” she said.

I tell boys and girls to use condoms.

Their work is critical for ensuring the sexual and reproductive health of refugees in the camp.

UNFPA funds training for Ethiopia’s third pilot census

Ethiopia is currently preparing for its third pilot census for the 4th National Population and Housing Census from June 18-28, which will for the first time ever include refugee communities in the country.

A PDA device being used by an enumerator to collect data from a household in Ethiopia. © UNFPA Ethiopia

The Government of Ethiopia is building this initiative on the back of a measure it took last year to launch civil registration for refugees in the country, allowing refugees to receive certificates for their vital events.

Two pilot censuses were conducted in November 2017 and March 2018; these tested the questionnaire, the quality of enumeration area maps and the length of the interview.

In preparation for the pilot census, a training-of-trainers workshop – funded by UNFPA – was held for 81 staff members of the Central Statistical Agency (CSA). They were trained to use tablets, in preparation for the forthcoming digital census.

Tablet technology, power banks, data bases and data centre will be tested to determine if they are ready for the census, said Asalfew Abera, Central Statistical Agency (CSA) Deputy Director-General.

Students living on university campuses and people living in institutions will also be part of the next pilot census. The organization of the census, including distribution and management of field equipment, will also be tested, Mr. Abera said.

More than 200 enumerators and 60 supervisors will receive training for the pilot enumeration from May 31 to June 11 at 13 training centres across the country. The pilot enumeration is due to start a week later.

The 4th Ethiopian Population and Housing Census has been twice postponed. The House of People’s Representatives has declared that the census is to be conducted during the next Ethiopian fiscal year. CSA hopes to conduct the census in November, although a date has not yet been set.

UNFPA is a leading partner of CSA and the Ethiopian government, working closely with them to ensure that the Fourth Population and Housing Census is implemented in accordance with international standards and best practices.

By Eyob Getahun, with additional content from UNFPA files