Ethiopian Journal of the Social Sciences and Humanities

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The Dynamics of (Agro) Pastoral Conflicts in Eastern Ethiopia

Bamlaku Tadesse, Fekadu Beyene, Workneh Kassa, Richard Wentzell


Ethnic-based resource conflicts were common in eastern Ethiopia among the Afar, Ittu-Oromo and Issa-Somali pastoral groups. This research attempted to identify the trends and prevalence of violent conflicts and the factors encouraging the rival groups to instigate conflicts. Qualitative data were collected from community leaders, ordinary members of the communities, and government official at various levels through one-on-one interviews, focus group discussions and field observations. The quantitative data were collected through household survey from the 128 households randomly drawn from the three districts of Meiso-Mullu, Meiso and Amibara. The results revealed that the trend of violent conflicts is increasing because of increased resource scarcity, absence of property rights, and weak customary institutions. The new political and administrative arrangements following the introduction of ethnic based federalism gave the existing conflicts new a dimension. The research revealed that socio-political factors and competition over scarce natural resources, particularly on water and pasture land, were found to be among important causes for most (agro) pastoral conflicts in the study area.

Keywords: Resource competition, ethnic conflict, property rights, and eastern Ethiopia

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