Daraba in the Lowlands of Wallagga: Dynamics in Agro-Pastoral Economic Practices, 1840-1985

Main Article Content

Dereje Hinew


Daraba, an agro-pastoral economic activity, was practiced on a broad scale in lowland areas of Wallagga, Western Ethiopia. The lowlands, including the Angar-Didessa, Gibe, Wama, Finca’a, Dabus, Birbir, and others, were centers for complementary grazing, hora (saltlick), swidden cultivation, and food gathering. This article deals with historical trends in the practice of herding livestock and swidden cultivation in these river valleys. Beginning in the early 19th century, daraba practice steadily declined owing to changes in land use and rights of access to lowland resources, such as grazing land and hora. The agents of these changes were the local rulers, including abba-qoros, and the state. The process negatively affected the livestock economy in general and herders’ livelihoods in particular. Evidence for the study came from reports of travellers, documents on state farms, and settlement programs as well as oral accounts. By employing this evidence, the study tries to demonstrate that the agro-pastoral practices in the lowlands were intimately associated with the scope of farmers’ access to valley land and the availability of pertinent resources there. This study argues that resource control and land use changes denied the rights of farmers’ access to the resources and profoundly discouraged agro-pastoralism in favour of modern cultivation and sedentarization. Nevertheless, a land use policy that considers the preservation of saltlicks and grazing areas in the lowlands could mitigate the declining livestock economy.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Author Biography

Dereje Hinew

Wollega University, College of Social Science, Department of History