Project Year



East Africa



Project Description

The Pastoralist Afar Community is nowadays locked in downward spirals of ecological and livelihood crises. Decades of state-led alienation have left the Afar with limited choices but considerable structural and institutional constraints to the access, use, and management of capital, technology, and institutional opportunities. However, recently, bottom-up, informal but market-centered stress-coping mechanisms have been employed by enterprising Afar women. They engage in trade with their own initiatives and enterprises, and their income has increased alongside their expenditures on a variety of goods ranging from foodstuffs to furniture, housing, schools, clinics, and wholesale marketing. Their market-oriented production and commerce could become the next generation of pastoral food security and sustainable development. Therefore, the primary objective of this study is to explore and explain the strain between established pastoral traditions and modern development policies, and the recent trends of commercial activities. Specifically, it will explore and explain the urban context of formal-structural and institutional pressures as well as informal-institutional opportunities facilitating predictable and enforceable exchange relationships. It will look into the aspects, trends and prospects of grass-root market-oriented activities (access, use and management of capital, technology and technical capabilities) together with the emerging channels and norms of social mobility. To ensure validity and reliability, the study will employ multiple data sources and multiple methods of data collection including document reviews, interviews, FGDs and life histories. The research findings will stimulate thinking with regard to a number of practical and theoretical issues of pastoral development in Ethiopia. More specifically, it will help policymakers and development specialists better understand historical and contemporary distortions in structuring market opportunities and management practices of pastoral economies.


Uthman Hassen 

About the Researcher(s)

HassenUthman Hassen is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Work in the School of Humanities and Law, Adama Science and Technology University. Besides academic and research duties, he has been involved in the Research and Publication Committee, Chairmanship of the Department, the School Academic Council, and as a Member for Curriculum Development. He has published two books and eight articles. His research interests are on Comparative and Historical Sociology, Political Sociology, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Social Class and Ethnicity, and Sociology of Development. He had also been the Deputy Editor-in-Chief and Columnist on an Amharic Philosophical Magazine Mezegebegnoch (The Illuminators). Uthman is a graduate of Addis Ababa University in Sociology, Philosophy and Political Science, and Social Work. He is a member of the Ethiopian Society of Sociologists, Social Workers, and Anthropologists. He was also a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Addis Ababa University but has presently withdrawn for personal reasons.

 Read Uthman Hassen's final report, "Pastoral Adaptation to Market Opportunities and Changing Gender Roles among the Afar in Ethiopia"

Read blogpost, "Pastoral Adaptation to Market Opportunities and Changing Gender Roles among the Afar in Ethiopia"



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