Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

“Do Our Bodies Know Their Ways?” Villagization, Food Insecurity, and Ill-Being in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley

  • Edward G. J. Stevenson and Lucie Buffavand

Abstract:

This article investigates food security and well-being in the context of “development-forced displacement” in Ethiopia. In the lower Omo, a large hydroelectric dam and plantation schemes have forced people to cede communal lands to the state and business speculators, and indigenous communities have been targeted for resettlement in new consolidated villages. The authors carried out a food access survey in new villages and in communities not yet subjected to villagization and complemented this with ethnographic research carried out over a period of four years. The results of the two methodological approaches were inconsistent. The survey data suggest that household food access was poor in both places but better in villagization sites than in the other communities. The ethnographic research, however, suggests that village settlers were unable to feed themselves from the irrigated plots they were allotted and were therefore dependent on food aid. They spoke of indignity, bodily discomfort, and the severance of meaningful social relations. This article discusses the contrast between the information generated by the different research methods and asks how this tension relates to two major narratives about development: development as a process through which the state actualizes a national dream, and development as a process that creates affluence for some by impoverishing others.

Cet article étudie la sécurité alimentaire et le bien-être dans le contexte du « déplacement forcé par le développement » en Éthiopie. Dans la basse vallée de l’Omo, un grand barrage hydroélectrique ainsi que des projets de plantation ont obligé les habitants à céder des terres communales à l’État et à des spéculateurs commerciaux. Les communautés autochtones ont été ciblées pour être réinstallées dans de nouveaux villages consolidés. Les auteurs ont effectué une enquête sur l’accès à la nourriture dans les nouveaux villages et dans des communautés qui n’ont pas encore été soumises à la villagisation et ils ont complété l’étude avec des recherches ethnographiques réalisées sur une période de quatre ans. Les résultats des deux approches méthodologiques étaient contradictoires. Les données de l’enquête suggèrent que l’accès des ménages à la nourriture était médiocre dans les deux cas, mais meilleur dans les sites de villagisation que dans les autres communautés. La recherche ethnographique, cependant, suggère que les habitants des nouveaux villages ne parvenaient pas à se nourrir avec les parcelles irriguées qui leur avaient été attribuées et qu’ils dépendaient de l’aide alimentaire. Ils parlèrent d’indignité, d’inconfort corporel et de rupture de relations sociales significatives. L’article traite du contraste entre les informations générées par les différentes méthodes de recherche et interroge le rapport entre cette tension et les deux discours majeurs sur le développement: le développement en tant que processus par lequel l’État réalise un rêve national et le développement en tant que processus qui enrichi certains par l’appauvrissement des autres.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      “Do Our Bodies Know Their Ways?” Villagization, Food Insecurity, and Ill-Being in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      “Do Our Bodies Know Their Ways?” Villagization, Food Insecurity, and Ill-Being in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      “Do Our Bodies Know Their Ways?” Villagization, Food Insecurity, and Ill-Being in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

References

Hide All
Abbink, Jon, et al. 2014. Lands of the Future: Transforming Pastoral Lands and Livelihoods in Eastern Africa. Working Paper No. 154. Halle, Germany: Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.
Abdisa, Gemeda, et al. 2001. Farmers’ Maize Seed Systems in Western Oromia, Ethiopia. Mexico City: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT).
Anonymous. 2013. The Downstream Impacts of Ethiopia’s Gibe III Dam: East Africa’s “Aral Sea” in the Making? Berkeley: International Rivers.
Avery, Sean. 2013. What Future for Lake Turkana? The Impact of Hydropower and Irrigation on the World’s Largest Desert Lake. Oxford: African Studies Center, University of Oxford.
Ayalew, Gebre, and Kassa, Getachew. 2009. “The Effects of Development Projects on the Karrayu and Afar in the Mid-Awash Valley.” In Moving People in Ethiopia: Development, Displacement, and the State, edited by Pankhurst, A. and Piguet, F., 6680. Oxford: James Currey.
Ayke, Asfaw. 2005. Challenges and Opportunities of “Salamago Resettlement”: The Resettlement of Konso Farmers in the Ethnic Lands of the Bodi Agro-Pastoralists, South-West Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Forum for Social Studies. www.fssethiopia.org.
Behnke, Roy, and Kerven, Carol. 2013. Counting the Costs: Replacing Pastoralism with Irrigated Agriculture in the Awash Valley, North-Eastern Ethiopia. Working Paper No. 4. London: International Institute for Environment and Development.
Benti, Tolessa, et al. 1997. “Reflections on the Successful Achievements of Hybrid Maize Breeding Program in Ethiopia.” Proceedings of the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Maize Conference, June 3–7, 1996, Arusha, Tanzania. Mexico City: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT). http://agris.fao.org.
Buffavand, Lucie. 2016. “The Land Does Not Like Them”: Contesting Dispossession in Cosmological Terms in Mela, South-West Ethiopia.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 10 (3): 476–93.
Carrier, James G. 2001. “Social Aspects of Abstraction.” Social Anthropology 9 (3): 243–56.
Central Statistical Agency (CSA). 2008. “The 2007 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia.” Addis Ababa: Central Statistical Agency.
Cernea, Michael M. 1999. The Economics of Involuntary Resettlement: Questions and Challenges. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Cernea, M. M. 2000. “Risks, Safeguards, and Reconstruction: A Model for Population Displacement and Resettlement.” In Risks and Reconstruction: Experiences of Resettlers and Refugees, edited by Cernea, Michael M. and McDowell, Chris, 1154. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.
Cernea, M. M. 2009. “Preface: An Original Contribution to Country-Wide Displacement Analysis.” In Moving People in Ethiopia: Development, Displacement and the State, edited by Pankhurst, Alula and Piguet, Francois, xxv–xxx. Oxford: James Currey.
Coates, Jennifer, Swindale, Anne, and Bilinsky, Paula. 2007. Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) for Measurement of Food Access: Indicator Guide. Washington, D.C.: Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) Project, Academy for Educational Development.
Colson, Elizabeth. 1971. The Social Consequences of Resettlement: The Impact of the Kariba Resettlement upon the Gwembe Tonga. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press.
Deitchler, Megan, et al. 2010. Validation of a Measure of Household Hunger for Cross-Cultural Use. Washington, D.C.: Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance Project (FANTA), Academy for Educational Development.
de Wet, C. J., ed. 2006. Development-Induced Displacement: Problems, Policies, and People. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Donham, Donald L., and James, Wendy, eds. 1986. The Southern Marches of Imperial Ethiopia: Essays in History and Social Anthropology. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
Eczet, J.-B. 2013. “Humains et Bovins en Pays Mursi (Ethiopie): Registres Sensibles et Processus de Socialité.” Ph.D. thesis, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.
Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT). 2014. “ENDF Open Fire, Wound Many in Bodi.” April 4. http://ethsat.com.
Ethiopian Sugar Corporation. 2014. “Ethiopian Sugar Industry Profile.” Addis Ababa: Ethiopian Sugar Corporation. http://etsugar.gov.
Ethiopian Sugar Corporation. 2015. “Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project.” Addis Ababa: Ethiopian Sugar Corporation. http://etsugar.gov.
Fana, Gebresenbet. 2016a. “The Political Economy of Land Investments: Dispossession, Resistance, and Territory-Making in Gambella, Western Ethiopia.” Ph.D. thesis, University of Leipzig and Addis Ababa University.
Fana, Gebresenbet. 2016b. “Land Acquisitions, the Politics of Dispossession, and State-Remaking in Gambella, Western Ethiopia.” Africa Spectrum 51 (1): 528.
Fayers-Kerr, Kate Nialla. 2013. “Beyond the Social Skin: Healing Arts and Sacred Clays among the Mun (Mursi) of Southwest Ethiopia.” Ph.D. thesis, Green Templeton College, Oxford University.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE). 2012. South Omo Villagization Plan. Addis Ababa: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
Freeman, Dena. 2015. “Techniques of Happiness: Moving Toward and Away from the Good Life.” Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5 (3): 157–76.
Fukui, Katsuyoshi. 2001. “Socio-Political Characteristics of Pastoral Nomadism: Flexibility among the Bodi (Mela-Me’en) in Southwest Ethiopia.” Nilo-Ethiopian Studies 7: 121.
González-Ruibal, Alfredo. 2014. An Archaeology of Resistance: Materiality and Time in an African Borderland. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.
Gownaris, Natasha J., et al. 2017. “Fisheries and Water Level Fluctuations in the World’s Largest Desert Lake.” Ecohydrology 10 (1): e1769.
Graeber, David. 2011. Debt: The First 5,000 Years. New York: Melville House.
Hadley, Craig, et al. 2012. “Rapidly Rising Food Prices and the Experience of Food Insecurity in Urban Ethiopia: Impacts on Health and Well-Being.” Social Science & Medicine, 75 (12): 2412–19.
Hobart, Mark. 1993. “Introduction: The Growth of Ignorance?” In An Anthropological Critique of Development: The Growth of Ignorance, edited by Hobart, Mark, 130. London: Routledge.
Human Rights Watch. 2012. What Will Happen If Hunger Comes? Abuses Against the Indigenous Peoples of Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley. New York: Human Rights Watch.
Hurd, Will. 2013. Ignoring Abuse in Ethiopia: DFID and USAID in the Lower Omo Valley. Oakland, Calif.: Oakland Institute. http://www.oaklandinstitute.org.
James, Wendy. 1979. “Kwanim pa”: The Making of the Uduk People—An Ethnographic Study of Survival in the Sudan-Ethiopian Borderlands. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Kamski, Benedikt. 2016. “The Kuraz Sugar Development Project (KSDP) in Ethiopia: Between ‘Sweet Visions’ and Mounting Challenges.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 10 (3): 568–80.
Kay, George. 1967. Social Aspects of Village Regrouping in Zambia. Hull, U.K.: University of Hull, Department of Geography.
LaTosky, S. Forthcoming. “Rhetorics of Purging in Mun (Mursi).” In Rhetorics of Social Relations, edited by Abbink, J. and LaTosky, S.. New York: Berghahn Books.
Leenhardt, Maurice. 1979. Do Kamo: Person and Myth in the Melanesian world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lienhardt, R. Godfrey. 1961. Divinity and Experience: The Religion of the Dinka. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Lienhardt, Godfrey. 1985. Self: Public, Private, Some African Representations. In The Category of the Person: Anthropology, Philosophy, History, edited by Carrithers, Michael, Collins, Steven, and Lukes, Steven, 141155. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
Maxwell, Simon, and Smith, Marisol. 1992. “Household Food Security: A Conceptual Review.” In Household Food Security: Concepts, Indicators, Measurements, edited by Maxwell, Simon and Frankenberger, T. R., 472. New York: UNICEF / International Fund for Agricultural Development.
McDowell, Chris, ed. 1996. Understanding Impoverishment: The Consequences of Development-Induced Displacement. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Markakis, John. 2011. Ethiopia: The Last Two Frontiers. Oxford: James Currey.
Meles, Zenawi. 2011. Speech in Jinka, January 25, 2011. www.mursi.org.
Mitchell, Timothy. 1988. Colonising Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Narayan, Deepa, et al. 2000. Voices of the Poor: Crying Out for Change. New York: Oxford University Press.
Ndagala, Daniel K. 1982. “‘Operation Imparnati’: The Sedentarization of the Pastoral Maasai in Tanzania.” Nomadic Peoples 10: 2839.
Oliver-Smith, Anthony. 2010. Defying Displacement: Grassroots Resistance and the Critique of Development. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Pankhurst, Alula. 1991. “People on the Move: Settlers Leaving Ethiopian Resettlement Villages.” Disasters 15 (1): 6167.
Pankhurst, A. 1992. Resettlement and Famine in Ethiopia: The Villagers’ Experience. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press.
Pankhurst, A. 2009. “Revisiting Resettlement Under Two Regimes in Ethiopia: The 2000s Program Reviewed in the Light of the 1980s Experience.” In Moving People in Ethiopia: Development, Displacement and the State, edited by Pankhurst, Alula and Piguet, Francois, 138–79. Oxford: James Currey.
Pankhurst, Helen. 1992. Gender, Development, and Identity: An Ethiopian Study. London: Zed Books.
Pankhurst, Rita. 1997. “The Coffee Ceremony and the History of Coffee Consumption in Ethiopia.” In Ethiopia in Broader Perspective Volume II, edited by Fukui, Katsuyoshi, Kurimoto, Eisei, and Shigeta, Masayoshi, 516–39. Kyoto: Shokado Book Sellers.
Pankhurst, Alula, and Piguet, Francois, eds. 2009. Moving People in Ethiopia: Development, Displacement and the State. Oxford: James Currey.
Roy, Arundhati. 1999. The Cost of Living. New York: Modern Library.
Sagawa, Toru. 2006. “Wives’ Domestic and Political Activities at Home: The Space of Coffee Drinking among the Daasanetch of Southwestern Ethiopia.” African Study Monographs 27 (2): 6386.
Salini, Impregilo. 2016. “Ethiopia Inaugurates Tallest RCC Dam in World Built by Salini Impregilo. Press release. December 17. www.salini-impregilo.com.
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Bourgois, Philippe I.. 2004. “Introduction: Making Sense of Violence.” In Violence in War and Peace, edited by Scheper-Hughes, Nancy and Bourgois, Philippe I., 131. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Scott, J. C. 2009. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Scudder, Thayer. 2012. Resettlement Outcomes of Large Dams. In Impacts of Large Dams: A Global Assessment, edited by Tortajada, Cecilia, 3767. Berlin: Springer.
Seeman, Don. 2015. “Coffee and the Moral Order: Ethiopian Jews and Pentecostals against Culture.” American Ethnologist 42 (4): 734–48.
Shweder, Richard A., et al. “The Cultural Psychology of Development: One Mind, Many Mentalities.” In Handbook of Child Psychology, edited by Damon, W. and Lerner, R. M., 716–92. New York: John Wiley.
Swindale, Anne, and Bilinsky, Paula. 2006. “Development of a Universally Applicable Household Food Insecurity Measurement Tool: Process, Current Status, and Outstanding Issues.” Journal of Nutrition 136: S1449–52.
Taddesse, Berisso. 2002. “Modernist Dreams and Human Suffering: Villagization among the Guji Oromo.” In Remapping Ethiopia: Socialism and After, edited by James, Wendy et al., 116–32. Oxford: James Currey.
Tewolde, Woldemariam, and Gebresenbet, Fana. 2014. “Socio-political and Conflict Implications of Sugar Development in Salamago Wereda, Ethiopia.” In A Delicate Balance: Land Use, Minority Rights and Social Stability in the Horn of Africa, edited by Berhe, Mulugeta Gebrehiwot, 117–43. Addis Ababa: Institute for Peace and Security Studies.
Turton, David. 1979. “A Journey Made Them: Territorial Segmentation and Ethnic Identity among the Mursi.” In Segmentary Lineage Systems Reconsidered, edited by Holy, Ladislav, 119–43. Belfast: Queen’s University.
Turton, D. 1985. “Mursi Response to Drought: Some Lessons for Relief and Rehabilitation.” African Affairs 84 (336): 331–46.
Turton, D. 2010. The Downstream Impact. Presentation at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, organized by the Royal Africa Society. www.mursi.org.
Turton, D. 2014. “Donor Balancing Act on Human Rights in the Lower Omo Valley.” Mursi Online, June 24. www.mursi.org.
United Nations. 1975. Report of the World Food Conference. New York: United Nations.
Walta. 2012. “Bureau Strives to Improve Pastoral Development Benefits.” www.waltainfo.com.
Weisner, Thomas S. 2009. “Well Being and Sustainability of the Daily Routine of Life.” In Pursuits of Happiness: Well-Being in Anthropological Perspective, edited by Mathews, Gordon and Izquierdo, Carolina, 228–47. New York: Berghahn Books.
Yidneckachew, Ayele. 2015. “Policies and Practices of Consultation with Pastoralist Communities in Ethiopia: The Case of Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project.” In The Intricate Road to Development: Government Development Strategies in the Pastoral Areas of the Horn of Africa, edited by Aberra, Yohannes and Abdulahi, Mahmmud, 282304. Addis Ababa: Institute of Peace and Security Studies.

Keywords

“Do Our Bodies Know Their Ways?” Villagization, Food Insecurity, and Ill-Being in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley

  • Edward G. J. Stevenson and Lucie Buffavand

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed