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About Wolaita
Wolaita is the name of both the people and area in Southern Nations, nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPRS).Wolaita is one of the omotic speaking people inhabiting the basins of Omo river and lake Abaya. It is bordered in the north by Hadiya and Sidama, in the South by Gamo Gofa and Dawro.

Wolaita Traditonal Cloth Pattern

The historical location of Wolaita is different from the current location, especially with regard to the coverage area. As some historians suggest, the administrative area of Wolaita extends up to Rudolf River in the south and North Shewa in the northern part of the current Ethiopia. Currently Wolaitas are located tin the southern part of Ethiopia with in the area of about 4,400 square kilo meters.

The northern tip of the boundary of Wolaita is at about 360 km south from the capital Addis Ababa.

Wolaita a man and a woman in a traditional cloth, photo credit to SNNPR Bureau of Tourism.


Wolaita is an Omotic language spoken in the Wolaita Zone and some other parts of the South Ethipia.The number of speakers of this language is estimated at 2,000,000 (1991 UBS); it is the native language of the Wolaita people. The estimates of the population vary greatly because it is not agreed where the boundaries of the language are.Wolaita has existed in written form since the 1940s, when the Sudan Interior Mission first devised a system for writing it. The writing system was later revised by a team led by Dr. Bruce Adams. They finished the New Testament in 1981 and the entire Bible in 2002. It was one of the first languages the Dergselected for their literacy campaign (1979–1991), before any other southern languages. Wolaita pride in their written language led to a fiercely hostile response in 1998 when the Ethiopian government distributed textbooks written in WOGAGODA – an artificial language based on amalgamating Wolaita with several closely related languages. As a result the textbooks in WOGAGODA were withdrawn and teachers returned to ones in Wolaita.


6º51″ and 7º35″ North Longitude; and 37º46″ and 38º1″ East Latitude. It is located at about 330 KMs south west of Addis Ababa, and 160 km from Hawassa, the Southern regional capital and borders with Gamo Gofa zone in the south, With Dawro Zone in the west, with SidamaZone in the east, with Kamabata & Tamabro and Hadiya Zones and with Oromia state in the northern east.

Wolaita is one of the fourteen zones of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPRS), which also has eight special Weredas. With a total area of 4,471.3 km² or 438,370 hectares, Wolaita is inhabited by over 1.9 million people. Out of the total cultivable land area of the zone, which is 232,867.12 ha, the cultivated land is 142,684.88 ha (61.3 %). 91,427 ha of total land area is covered by forest, 48, 082 ha (20.6) is grazing land, 17, 022 ha irrigable, 3,113 ha irrigated and 31,710 ha is covered by others.


The topography of Woalaitta zone is composed of rugged undulating mountain, rolling hills, plateaus and plains that extend up to low land of Lake Abaya. In terms of agro ecology the area is 9% highland (Dega), 56% midland (Weinadega) and 35% lowland (Kolla). The altitude ranges from the lowest at the foot of Omo river valley 501 MASL to highest 2,950 MASL at peak of Mount Damota. The average temperature varies from minimum 15.10c to maximum 310c. Regarding the land holding size of Wolaita 6% hh has less than 0.1ha, 47.3%hh has 0.1-0.5ha, 27% hh has 0.51-1.00ha, 5.3%hh has 1.01-2.00ha, and only 4.4% hh has 2 ha and above. Wolaiita Zone has a total square area of 4,511.7 km-among this 57% well cultivated,7% can be productive if labor added and 11% grazing landand 19% is coved with forestry. Totally, it is estimated land covered with forest is 8.9%.


Maximum rain fall is received from July to September and ranges from 801 -1,600 mm, which compares favorably with many other places in the country. Depending on the climatic condition/nature, Wolaita Zone is categorized under rift valley crop producing position.


According to the SNNPR Regional Statistical Abstract 2007, the average population density of Wolaita is over 385 people per square kilo meter (ppkm²) making it one of the most densely populated areas in the country. Population density in some parts of the Zone is as high as 781 ppkm² in Damot Gale Wereda; and as low as 168 ppkm² in Humbo Woreda.

Based on the data gathered by WODA in 2009 the population size and structure, the current total population of the zone is 1,906,244 of which 795,950 are children (0-14years) 901,276 are working age population and 29,352 are old age (65+1) population, women of reproductive age (15-49) are 42,572. The current average population density of the Zone is 428.2km2.To alleviate the population increment problem, about 276,695 females and 57,956 males have been usingdifferent contraceptive methods.


The major economic activities are agriculture (production of legumes, root crops and some cereals – predominantly maize), and livestock rearing. Wolaita Zone is suitable for agricultural activities having various climatic conditions, variety soil profiles, 12,000 hectares of reproductive land for irrigation and intense water bodies. Among these only 8,690 lands is in sue for irrigation.

According to the census made in 1999 E.C, it is estimated to be 1.65 million. When it is split in sex, 50.73% are male and 49.27 % are female.Its annual growth rate 2.9%. Among the whole people, the productive group ranges from ranges 15-64 and this in 50.2% and non-productive.

part fewer than 15 ages and above 65 ages contributes 49.8%. Meanwhile among the productive portion of the people, 262,404 are owner farmers and an average family size is 5.5 as the information Wolaita Zone Finance and Economic department. Most people as it is mentioned 1,453,100 /88.5%/ live in the country and depends on subsistence farming. In a sq.km, 364 people dwell and surprisingly 694 inDamot Pulasa and 159 in Humbo.

From the time when Wolaita Zone Administration established, much more efforts to the stability of development, good governance and democracy and peace. Wolaita Zone as has made good integration among GO’s and NGO’s and has ratified 5 years of development and transformation strategic plan as vital scenario. This rally puts forth to improve the economic growth and to lessen the social problems. Based on this concept so many developments have been accomplished. For illustration, intensifying agricultural extension package with the inclusion and increment of farmers’ heads-females as well as males. As the beneficiary number of the farmers in this was 240,982 in 1997 E.C. and extended to be 274,234 in 2003 E.

Source: Compiled from various sources and Wikipedia

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