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Accepted Paper:

“Back where we came from”: an ethnography of Bunobasa kebele among drought, failed resettlement, investors presence and nomadic incursions.  
Valentina Acquafredda (Università di Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy)

Paper short abstract:

It presents the Ethiopian case of Bunobasa Baketo kebele, which is depopulating due to return of communities to highlands. Once a land of displacement because of environmental problems in surroundings, it is now a land of departure because of insecurity due to, but not limited to, climate change.

Paper long abstract:

The article presents the ethnographic case of Bunobasa Basketo kebele in Basketo special woreda in SNNPR of Ethiopia. This is one of the kebele affected by a not-new adaptation strategy, resettlement (2003-2007), to cope with land scarcity in the highlands and central areas and cyclical famine, which convinced and forced families to relocate. This was an inadequately response, planned by ERPDF government with a top-down approach.

Nowadays Bunobasa is depopulating, and communities are returning to the surrounding highlands because of worsening environmental conditions, but not exclusively. Delayed rains and rising temperatures are making survival increasingly difficult even in an area where the land is fertile.

Indeed, many hectares of land have been granted to wealthy Ethiopian investors who represent, amid criticism from the community, the only alternative of income for families, as well as a deterrent to the incursions of nomadic pastoralists from the South Omo Zone, who in a context of livestock shortages and lack of legality, due to civil war and local disorders, have intensified their assaults.

What is happening in Punobasa is paradigmatic because it demonstrates how the reasons for people's mobility should be attributed to climate-induced factors, even if they do not exhaust the complexity of the dynamics that are affecting the area.

While the government's reaction to the current situation has been to nominate Bunobasa for Safety Net, an emergency food program passed off as climate resilience, people are left with no choice to resist or leave, going back to where they came from.

Panel Envi04
African futures: climate change and human mobility
  Session 2 Friday 2 June, 2023, -