Wolqayt (also Welqayt, Wolkait, Walkait, Uolcait, etc.; Ge'ez ወልቃይት welḳāyt or wolḳāyt, IPA: [wɔlkʼayt]) is the woreda and region in northwestern Ethiopia. Located in Mi'irabawi Zone in Tigray Region, this woreda is bordered on the northwest and north by Kafta Humera, then separated on the east by the Semien Mi'irabawi Zone, part of the eastern border is along the Tekezé River, and on the south by Tsegede. The administrative center of Wolqayt is Addi Remets; other towns in this woreda include Mai'gaba and Awura.
Wolqayt is known for its fertile alluvial soil, which grows cash crops such sesame, cotton and also sorghum. It is also known for the production of essence. Because this region has long and strong historical ties with Sudan, Tigray, Eritrea and Gonder, it has become a hot spot for all people from all the parts of Ethiopia and neighbouring countries.
Until the 1996 administrative reorganization, Wolqayt was part of Semien and Begemder provinces. Wolqayt was allocated within the Tigray Region once ethnic federalism was established in Ethiopia. The wife of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Woizero Azeb Mesfin, was born in Wolqayt; since the 2005 election, she has represented Wolqayt.
In May 2010 construction was underway on a road segment connecting Adi Remets with a 98 kilometer road west to Dejena Densha; construction of the segment east to Dedebit awarded that month to Sur Construction for 801 million Birr.
Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), this woreda has a total population of 138,926, an increase of 90,186 over the 1994 national census, of whom 70,504 are men and 68,422 women; 10,758 or 7.74% are urban inhabitants. With an area of 3,374.52 square kilometers, Wolqayt has a population density of 41.17, which is greater than the Zone average of 28.94 persons per square kilometer. A total of 30,375 households were counted in this woreda, resulting in an average of 4.57 persons to a household, and 29,336 housing units. The majority of the inhabitants said they practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, with 97.28% reporting that as their religion, while 2.71% of the population were Muslim.
The 1994 national census reported a total population for this woreda of 90,186, of whom 45,657 were men and 44,529 were women; 4,597 or 5.1% of its population were urban dwellers. The two largest ethnic groups reported in Wolqayt were the Tigrayan (96.58%), and the Amhara (3.03%); all other ethnic groups made up 0.39% of the population. Tigrinya is spoken as a first language by 97.14%, and 2.75% speak Amharic; the remaining 0.11% spoke all other primary languages reported. 96.75% of the population said they were Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and 3.09% were Muslim. Concerning education, 3.9% of the population were considered literate, which is less than the Zone average of 9.01%; 3.36% of children aged 7–12 were in primary school, which is less than the Zone average of 11.34%; a negligible number of the children aged 13–14 were in junior secondary school, which is also less than the Zone average of 0.65%; and a negligible number of children aged 15–18 were in senior secondary school, which is less than the Zone average of 0.51%. Concerning sanitary conditions, about 1% of the urban houses and about 8% of all houses had access to safe drinking water at the time of the census; about 4% of the urban and about 4% of all houses had toilet facilities.
A sample enumeration performed by the CSA in 2001 interviewed 24,417 farmers in this woreda, who held an average of 0.99 hectares of land. Of the 24,286 hectares of private land surveyed, over 86.69% was in cultivation, 1.27% pasture, 10.37% fallow, 0.03% in woodland, and 1.65% was devoted to other uses. For the land under cultivation in this woreda, 63.29% was planted in cereals, 4.19% in pulses, 18.24% in oilseeds, and 0.17% in vegetables is missing. The area planted in gesho was 25 hectares; the area in fruit trees is missing. 79.64% of the farmers both raised crops and livestock, while 10.96% only grew crops and 9.4% only raised livestock. Land tenure in this woreda is distributed amongst 73.93% owning their land, 25.09% renting, and 0.98% reported as holding their land under other forms of tenure. The intensive agriculture is necessary to feed people of the region due to the burgeoning human population, but continuing conversion of natural lands to agriculture is taking a toll on biodiversity in the area.
The Ethiopian government has decided to build several can sugar mills. One of them is being built in the Wolkait region.
- "Tigray, Southern Towns Get First Roads", Addis Fortune 2 May 2010 (accessed 5 May 2010)
- Census 2007 Tables: Tigray Region, Tables 2.1, 2.4, 2.5 and 3.4.
- 1994 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Results for Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region, Vol. 1, part 1, Tables 2.1, 2.12, 2.19, 3.5, 3.7, 6.3, 6.11, 6.13 (accessed 30 December 2008)
- "Central Statistical Authority of Ethiopia. Agricultural Sample Survey (AgSE2001). Report on Area and Production - Tigray Region. Version 1.1 - December 2007" (accessed 26 January 2009)
- http://theafricareport.com/index.php/news-analysis/ethiopia-injects-us$4-billion-into-sugar-factories-50177916.html The Africa report, retrieved on 13 July 2012