Indigenous Institutions Of Conflict Resolution Among The Allala Afar Of North-eastern Ethiopia

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This is a study on indigenous practices of conflict resolution among the Afar who share a common rnboundary with Tigrayan highlanders in northem Ethiopia. The latter constitute a separate ethnic rngroup and have a slightly ditferent lII eans of subsistence. The aim of tile study was to examine tJle rntypes of disputes in historical perspectives and understand local ways of handling conflict ranging rnfrom the intra-clan to the inter-ethllic level. rnThe study revealed that the nature of conflict changed with changes in the ecological, socio economic and political arena . Ecological disasters causing huge livestock loss have forced the rnAfar to diversify their means or incolll e to cope up with the situation. This shih in tile Ineans of rnlivelihood had its own effects as far as the traditional institutions and value systems are concerned. rnWith a shift fi'om nomadic based economy to cultivation, the pastoral attitude of cOllllllullal rnownership of land altered and conllicts taking the fOl1n of land disputes and water diversion rights rnbecame rampant. Urballisation alld wage labour lIIigration had also weakened kinship obligations rnand clan solidarity alllollg the !d~lr which bear th eir own influence on local disput e settl ement. rnOn the highl and-Iowlalld dilll ension, past experiences reveal that raids triggered by resource rncompetition, loss of stock and the quest for social honour had been COllllllon . Currently, however, rnsedentarisation reduced mobility of the Afar and minimised the extent of inter-etIlJlie cOllflict. In rnlct , this together witJI existing cross-cutting ties, economic and social relations with highlanders rnstrengthened peace in the northern PClltS of the ethnic boundary. III sOllie cases, fights that OCClll' rnuetwecn illdividuals or slliall groups cspecially in thc southem territory ollcn quickly turn into rninter-etlUlic conflict expressed in replisals. But dissolution of the traditional political systelll of the rnsoutJlern highlanders has made it difficult for them to pursue their institutional violence against tJle rnAfar. Besides, the cUIl'ent Federa1 systelJl of govemment has generally enabled the Ajar to see rnthemselves as a group giving little imp0l1ance to clan differences. Thjs along with the Afar rnpeople's increased involvement ill lIational affairs created power balallce between them aJld the rnTigrayan highlanders leading to a reduction in tJle prevalence of raids. rnWhen conflicts occur at various levels, tlle AJar generally rely more 011 their own local dispute rnsettlement forums than the government legal machinery. Within their OWII group, clan elders as rnwell as kjnship and clomestic groups maintain peace through sanctiolls following mablo rnassemblies. Relations with the hi ghlanders are also regulated via a jointly established institution rncalled (Jereb, which eJlforces order based on written customary laws. At present, govemlllent rnillstitutions also co-operate with local inter-ethnic mediation at diOerellt stages.

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Indigenous Institutions Of Conflict Resolution Among The Allala Afar Of North-eastern Ethiopia

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