The Dynamics of Urbanization, Development and Ethnic Contestation in Peri-Urban Ethiopia

This research investigates dynamics of conflict and contestation as a result of processes of rural-urban transformation in Ethiopia.  

The research will use a comparative case study design to better understand peri-urban land and housing markets in two urban settings. To gain a better understanding of the multiple possible pathways, research will be conducted both in a major urban center and in a secondary city. In each city, two peri-urban neighborhoods will be randomly selected for ethnographic research. Long-term fieldwork of 3-5 months in each locality will allow to understand the complexities of the informal land markets and the housing sector in particular. 

Key in this will be to better understand the complex networks of actors and institutions which control and contest the authority over land transfers and access to housing. Rather than starting from pre-conceived notions of formal and informal, this research project is interested rather to understand land governance as it unfolds in its everyday settings. Qualitative data will be gathered through interaction with a multiplicity of actors and institutions (municipal services, urban political authorities, customary authorities, real estate agents, land owners, (new) urban inhabitants, etc. 

This research project will be highly dynamic as it will situate itself in the process of rapid urban growth itself, and analysis the multiple effects of fast urban expansion on governance in peri-urban settlements. Given the expected pressure on land and housing, contestation and potential open conflict are likely to occur, which can provide key insights in the way that struggles over authority shape land and housing markets. 

  • Funded by: Nascere (2020-2023)
  • Contact: Ayehu Bacha
  • Staff Involved: Ayehu Bacha, Karen Büscher