Thousands protest in Oromia over computerized housing lottery scheme

Kwao Saa

Thousands of people are protesting in the Oromia region of Ethiopia over the government’s decision to distribute housing units in the area.

The protests began after the Addis Ababa City Administration Savings & Houses Development Enterprise (AASHDE) allocated thousands of condominium houses located in Addis Ababa and the special zone of the Oromia region.

The AASHDE is allocating the houses based on a computerized lottery draw. About 7,127 people have been awarded condominium houses so far. The homes, which constitute one, and two bedroom apartments, are mostly located in Koye Feche, an area in the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finfinne.

The protests are reportedly ongoing in different cities in Oromia including Adama, western Arsi, and Shashemene. There are also protests in Bale Robe and Asselaand in Haramara.

The winners of the digital lottery were people who registered for housing under the saving program known as 20/80 and 40/60. As part of the housing program, people were required to save about 20% for a studio, and also for one and two bedroom apartments. The government promised to assist these people with the remaining 80%. A similar scheme applied to those who were able to save 40%.

The government reportedly built about 51,000 flats as part of plans to reduce the growing shortage of housing units in the country.

The winners of the AASHDE housing scheme were announced this week before the protests erupted.

The protesters say the Addis Ababa city administration does not have the right to allocate houses in Koye Feche and the other areas within the Oromia Regional States.

The protesters insist that these areas are within the Oromia regional state Special Zone around Finfinne. These areas were placed under the Oromia regional government in 2008. However, some say there are still disputes to determine the exact boundaries of Addis Ababa.

The Oromia regional government has decried the decision by the Addis Ababa city administration saying it is not proper. However, the Addis Ababa city administration is yet to comment on the issue.