The dynamics of farmer migration and resettlement in the Dhidhessa River Basin, Ethiopia

Meseret Dawit Teweldebrihan*, Saket Pande, Michael McClain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The Dhidhessa River Basin (DRB), in the Abbay River Basin in Ethiopia, is undergoing large-scale dam construction for sugarcane irrigation. We focused on the dynamics of population migration, settlement, relocation and water resource development in the DRB using primary and secondary data. Two major migration waves were observed in the basin: the first in 1984–1986 during a severe drought and the second during 2005–2017. Most rural migrants were “pulled” by government initiative in the period 1984–2017, while a few migrated of their own accord due to famine. We found that the first migration wave from eastern Ethiopia (Harar) to DRB was due to scarcity of water, land and rainfall and the migration positively affected migrant livelihoods. In the second phase, dam construction displaced settled farmers and migrants, adversely affecting their livelihoods. Analysis is needed that considers the wellbeing of the displaced agrarian society and the migrant population in the dam-affected area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1985-1993
Number of pages9
JournalHydrological Sciences Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Arjo-Dhidhessa Dam
  • Dhidhessa River Basin
  • drought
  • migration
  • relocation


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