Resettlement, Food Security and the Problem of Forest Resource Depletion in Western Ethiopia: The Case of Angar Gutin Resettlement Site in Eastern Wollega

  • Zelalem Teferra


This  article  is  concerned  with  the  ecological  impacts  of  state-sponsored  and
self-initiated  resettlements  in  western  Ethiopia.  Based  on  assessment  of
empirical  data  obtained  from  three  contiguous  districts  of  Eastern  Wollega,
namely, Gidda-Kiramu, Abe-Dongoro and Limu districts, the research inquires
into  the  sustainability  of  the  widely  held  notion  among  the  policy  makers  of
Ethiopia that resettlement as a food security strategy is viable and there is still
abundant  unsettled  land  in  western  Ethiopia  to  carryout  further  resettlement
Most  of  the  large-scale  population  resettlements  in Ethiopia,  be  they  state
sponsored or self- initiated, were virtually carried out under the guise of food
security.  Their  long-term  results,  however,  are  negative  and  dismal  in  many
instances.  The  finding  of  the  current  research  work in  Angar-Gutin
Resettlement Site is a testimony to this. It indicated that massive resettlements
in the ecologically fragile lowland areas are effective only as a short-term
mechanism of defusing acute economic problems. In the long–run, they tend to
cause  much  more  environmental  stress  than  ensuring  food  security  and
environmental well-being. Particularly, in the absence of a clearly set natural
resource  management  system,  in  the  absence  of  viable  mechanisms  for
regulating  settlement  patterns  of  migrant  population  (especially  spontaneous
migrants), and in the absence of formally recognized entitlement rights to the
land (albeit the current attempt to certify usufruct right), both state-sponsored
and  self-initiated  resettlements  were  bound  to  be  environmentally  unsound.
They  led  to  wanton  destruction  of  forest  resources  and  the  subsequent
deterioration of the regional biodiversity.


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