Villagization and access to water resources in the Middle Awash Valley of Ethiopia: Implications for climate change adaptation

Mekonnen Adnew Degefu, Mohammed Assen, Poshendra Satyal, Jessica Budds

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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Since the 1970s, the Government of Ethiopia has implemented villagization, whereby nomadic pastoralist groups are supported to develop (more) sedentary lifestyles and livelihoods. Villagization has been officially promoted to encourage diversification from livestock herding to agricultural cultivation, and to fulfil basic needs through infrastructure and services. From the late 2000s, villagization was reintroduced for arid and semi-arid regions as a strategy for adaptation to climate change, as part of the country's green growth agenda. The aim of this paper is to evaluate to what extent this phase of villagization has contributed to adaptation strategies among pastoral and agro-pastoral communities, based on an empirical analysis of four villagised sites in the Middle Awash Valley using qualitative data collected between 2014 and 2018. Perceptions and experiences of villagization varied across individuals, households, villages, and districts. While villagization has generally delivered infrastructure and services, and offered income diversification to those able to access irrigated agriculture, its implementation has been partial and uneven, and it has reproduced previous problems of resource scarcity while creating new risks and vulnerabilities. We argue that villagization may play a role in some aspects of adaptation, if programmes address the drivers of livelihood change, and embed equity and rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-910
Number of pages12
JournalClimate and Development
Issue number10
Early online date17 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • arid and semi-arid areas
  • drought
  • Ethiopia
  • livelihoods
  • nomadic pastoralism and agro-pastoralism
  • Resettlement
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • water resources
  • water scarcity

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