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State, Governance and the Creation of Small Towns in Ethiopia

  • Jonathan BakerEmail author
Special Issue Article

Abstract

This paper is based on data collected from fieldwork in 2003 and 2013 in and around the small town of Bora in the Oromiya Zone of the Amhara Region in north-eastern Ethiopia. When Bora was first visited in 2003 it was an isolated place with a population of less than 1000. There was a police station, a health centre dependent upon a diesel generator, and a small weekly market. The town lacked electricity and the town’s water-supply pump did not work. By 2013, following wider changes at the national level introduced by Ethiopia’s developmental state model, the fortunes of Bora had changed dramatically as a result of its administrative upgrading to a politically-powerful woreda (district) capital town and greatly improved connectivity. Finally, the paper demonstrates how livelihoods in the new Dewa Harewa woreda, of which Bora is the capital, have been transformed by the rapid adoption of khat, (catha edulis), a mild narcotic plant, which has now become the dominant cash crop, positively impacting both rural and urban livelihoods.

Keywords

Developmental state Connectivity Khat Changing livelihoods Bora 

Cette étude est base sur les données collectes pendent le travail sur le terrain, entre 2003 et 2013, centrés sur la petite ville de Bora et ses alentours. Bora se trouve dans la zone de Oromiya, dans la région Amhara, dans le nord-est de l’Ethiopie. Quand Bora a été visite pour la première fois en 2003, il s’agissait d’un lieu isolé avec une population inferieure a 1000 habitants. Il y avait une gendarmerie, un centre médical qui dépendait d’un générateur diésel, et un petit marché hebdomadaire. Cependant, en 2013 – par suite de changements à niveau nationale introduits par le modèle de développement mené par l’état Éthiope – le sort de Bora avait changé dramatiquement. Bora avait été reclassifié comme une puissante capitale de woreda (chef-lieu de province) et sa connectivité avait fortement augmenté. Cette étude démontre comment les moyens de subsistance dans la nouvelle province (woreda) Dewa Harewa, de laquelle Bora est la capitale, ont été transformés par l’adoption rapide du khat (catha edulis), une plante narcotique douce, qui est maintenant devenue la principale culture commerciale. Ceci a eu un impact positif sur les moyens de subsistance rurales et urbaines.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge the many important insights and inspirational ideas that I received from Cecilia Tacoli of the International Institute for Environment and Development (London). I owe a debt of gratitude to Jytte Agergaard of the University of Copenhagen for facilitating a number of important issues related to the writing of this article. I would like to acknowledge the great efforts of Goitom Abera of Mekele University for his help in explaining the intricacies and meanings of local terms. Jan Pettersson of the library of the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala deserves acknowledgement for providing invaluable material on Ethiopia over many years. Thanks to my son, Benjamin Baker for helping me during this trying period of my life.

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Ethiopian authors are listed by their first names according to Ethiopian convention

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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Global Development and PlanningUniversitetet i Agder/University of AgderKristiansandNorway

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