Due to the absence of proper census and less awareness of the society, the exact figure of People with Disability (PWDs) in Ethiopia is unknown. It is said to be that the number of disabilities in the country does not exceed 1.1 million. This figure, however, shows that the number of PWDs is not properly identified.
International and regional institutions on disability stress the importance of having sound disability statistics and valid disability database. At the national level, the National Statistical Development Strategy (2009/10 - 2013/14) of the Ethiopian Central Statistical Authority (CSA) acknowledges the need for maintaining a comprehensive data on persons with disabilities in the country.
There are many reasons why these instruments and documents acknowledged the need and importance of disability statistics or valid disability database just as any quality statistical information or data, quality disability information is needed for service programming and development, capacity building, budgeting, and seeking international assistance, among others.
According to research conducted on Standard Disability Survey Tools and Measurement by the Ethiopian National Disability Action Network, appropriate disability statistics or data is important for monitoring the level of functioning in a population, provision of services and equalization of opportunity.
Monitoring functioning levels in a population is important for two purposes. First, it helps to understand the prevalence of disability. Second, it helps in evaluating the success of disability interventions. Prevalence of disability correlates with how high priority disability issues should receive in the country's development agenda. The more persons with disabilities, the more important disability issue will be. By the same the more persons who are living with particular disability types, the more important disability issues that particular disability type will be.
Collecting data on prevalence of disability in general, on the prevalence of a particular type of disability, will enable development actors to measure the number of persons with disabilities and how could be benefited.
Another important point of disability information or data is to design and implement programs aimed at providing services to persons with disabilities. Two types of services can be envisaged here-mainstream and disability specific services. The former refers to services made available to the general public, and appropriate disability data provides the relevant information to accommodate PWDs in the provision of mainstream services. The latter refers to specific services targeted at PWDs in general, or targeted at persons with a specific disability types in particular.
Organizations planning to design service delivery programs would need detailed information on peoples' functioning levels, the supports that people have available to them within their family and within their community, and environmental characteristics. More specifically, in order to design a program for persons with vision problems detailed information is needed on how many people are blind as opposed to how many people had some limited vision they could utilize, and how many had problems that were correctable by glasses.
If an organization's plan is to design an on-site program, it needs to have information, among others, on the target beneficiaries' ability to travel to the center to receive services. Their ability to travel, of course, would be a function of the extent of their vision problems, the presence of other functional limitations, the accessibility of transportation systems, and the resources (monetary and non-monetary) that they could employ.
An extensive household survey or administrative database that is designed with an idea in mind of what services are going to be delivered provides the required information.
Furthermore, disability information or data is to assess the impact of having a limitation on individuals and their families. The goal of inclusive development is to enable all people to have equal opportunities for participating in the economic and social lives of their communities.
Appropriate disability information or data how inclusive a society is in respect to PWDs. Such information is also important to monitor progresses made in ensuring equal participation of them in all aspects.
Federation of Ethiopian National Associations of Persons with Disabilities Executive Director Abayneh Gujo agreed on the aforesaid statement. Census has its own advantage to make disabilities inclusive in all development endeavors. Data has its own impact to further enhance the budget allocated for disabilities.
Due to misconception and poor understanding of the society, so far, various public services are not accessible to PWDs. Indicating that there are still disable people who are confined in isolated manner in rural and urban parts of Ethiopia. Thus the Executive Director called on the family, neighbors and the society at large to cooperate with the Agency for the proper counting of PWDs.
In Ethiopia, the government has been striving to conduct census on disability. It was recoiled that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MoLSA) called on the public to contribute its share for proper inclusion of disabilities when the fourth Population and Housing Census is conducted.
MoLSA State Minister Tadelech Dalecho told The Ethiopian Herald that sustainable development is inclusive development. Time and again, the incumbent has been striding to benefit PWDs from ongoing development through setting laws, regulation as well as signing international conventions. But, still the society has been hiding disabilities. This has its own impact on the rights and well-being of disabilities in all spheres of country's development plan.
The Ministry is working in collaboration with Central Statistic Agency to entertain PWDs issues seriously, Tadelech said, stating that associations, federations and other stakeholders to play their unreserved role to raising awareness concerning disability; the right to engage in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
For this to happen, federations which are entrenched at every level have a responsibility of lauding the voice of their members. "The issue of PWDs is not left for a single entity alone rather; it is the issue of the society at large. It also requires the effort of all. Thus, the general public should have to contribute their share for the betterment of PWDs," she added.