Politics of Development and Resettlement in Ethiopia: is it Villagization or Land Grabbing? the Case of Gambella Regional State

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Addis Ababa University


The years 2010 and 2011 were ever unique for Gambella, because it was the first historical and memorable time when Gambella has received tremendous reactions from national and international medias, activists and scholars, fromgovernment and non-government actors. This was, due to the parallel episode of two globally and nationally sensitive issues of giving out virgin and fertile land for local and foreign investors and planning of resettling geographically scattered 45,000 people together through villagization program. Therefore, this study was conducted with the general objective of addressing the conflicting perspectives over the programs pertaining to villagization and land grabbing. To this end, interview, personal observation, focus group discussion have been used intensively with all concerned government officials, investors and local people. And the study revealed that the government provoked only the independence and non-correlational nature of villagization and land leasing programs, while the fact is thatthereis implicitlyplanned long term means-ends correlation in between the programs in the future. But, for now both are going on in the region concomitantly. Moreover, the Michael Carnea's resettlement based model and, Borras and Franco's land ownership and land usage change model were used by the study. Accordingly, the programs resulted in multi-faceted problems and the shift of usage of land from forest and governmentally called idle and marginal land to food and non-food productions and, shift of ownership of land from the ownership of indigenous people to the ownership of land by the "elites" of politics and economy is visible in the region. Therefore, it is the call of this paper for policy formulators’ toredesign and re consider the programs in a way it can make indigenous people the beneficiary of the land leasing and other land related projects going on in the region. Keywords: villagization, resettlement, land grabbing, development



Villagization, Resettlement, Land grabbing, Development