Dale is one of the 77 woredas in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia. Part of the Sidama Zone located in the Great Rift Valley, Dale is bordered on the south by the Oromia Region, on the southwest by Lake Abaya, on the west by the Wolayita Zone, on the north by Shebedino, on the east by Arbegona and Hula, and on the southeast by Aleta Wendo; part of its western boundary is defined by the Bilate River. The major town in Dale is Irgalem.
The elevation of this woreda varies from about 1200 meters above sea level along the shores of Lake Abaya to about 3200 meters at its westernmost point. Rivers include the Gidabo. A 2004 survey of the land in Dale shows that 81.9% is arable or cultivable, none used for pasture, 2.7% forest, and the remaining 15.5% is considered swampy, degraded or otherwise unusable. The same survey reported important cash crops for Dale include corn, barley, haricot beans, local varieties of cabbage, and sweet potatoes. Coffee is also an important cash crop in Dale, with 15.38 square kilometers planted with this crop, which produced a total of 9.3 million kilograms of beans in 2002/03 (5.7 million kilograms in 2003/04).
Industry in this woreda includes 57 coffee pulpers. Two micro-finance institutions operate in Dale: the Sidama Microfinance Institution SC (SMFI), established in 1998; and the Omo Microfinance Institution SC (OMFI), established in 1997. While OMFI is a regional organization, SMFI operates only in the Sidama Zone; SMFI has 2,365 active clients and has loaned 5.5 million Birr to woreda inhabitants, while OMFI has 1,547 active clients and has made about 4.1 million Birr in loans. There are 15 multipurpose cooperatives in Dale, of which 12 are organized and registered in accordance with the new cooperatives law, with about 29,295 members or nearly 50% of the rural population; all of them are members of the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. The remaining 3 cooperatives are in the process of complying with the new law. According to a 2004 report, Dale had 27 kilometers of asphalt roads, 166 kilometers of all-weather roads and 28 kilometers of dry-weather roads, for an average road density of 167 kilometers per 1000 square kilometers.
Based on figures published by the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, this woreda has an estimated total population of 441,263, of whom 215,677 are men and 225,586 are women; 43,815 or 9.93% of its population are urban dwellers, which is greater than the Zone average of 8.9%. With an estimated area of 1,326.41 square kilometers, Dale has an estimated population density of 332.7 people per square kilometer, which is less than the Zone average of 430.03.
In the 1994 Census this woreda had a population of 306,329, of whom 156,772 were men and 149,557 women; 24,183 or 7.89% of its population were urban dwellers. The four largest ethnic groups reported in Dale were the Sidama (91.29%), the Amhara (3.98%), the Oromo (1.16%), and the Welayta (1.01%); all other ethnic groups made up 2.56% of the population. Sidamo is spoken as a first language by 92.57% of the inhabitants, 5.93% speak Amharic, 0.46% Welayta, and 0.33% Oromiffa; the remaining 0.71% spoke all other primary languages reported. 58.02% of the population said they were Protestants, 14.54% observed traditional religions, 9.05% practiced Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and 7.59% were Muslim.
- "Dale Pilot Learning Site Diagnosis and Program Design" IPMS Information Resources Portal - Ethiopia (January 2005), p. 6 (accessed 12 March 2009)
- Woreda administration sources, as quoted in Final Report for Aposto-Wendo-Negele (World Bank Report E1546, vol. 1), p. 63
- Final Report, pp. 65f
- "Dale Pilot", p. 9
- "Dale Pilot", p. 11
- "Detailed statistics on roads", SNNPR Bureau of Finance and Economic Development website (accessed 15 September 2009)
- CSA 2005 National Statistics, Tables B.3 and B.4
- 1994 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Results for Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region, Vol. 1, part 1, Tables 2.1, 2.7, 2.11, 2.15, 2.19 (accessed 30 December 2008)
- Final Report, p. 71