International Journal of
Peace and Development Studies

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Peace and Dev. Stud
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6621
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJPDS
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 103

Full Length Research Paper

Relative deprivation: An explanation to inter-ethnic conflict in Metekel Zone, North Western Ethiopia, since 1991

Dagnachew Ayenew
  • Dagnachew Ayenew
  • Department of Peace and Development Studies, Wollo University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 12 November 2017
  •  Accepted: 04 January 2018
  •  Published: 31 March 2018


This study explains chief causes of covert and overt conflict between indigenous and non-indigenous ethnic groups of Metekel zone, since 1991. For the sake of convenience, however, particular emphasis is given to the conflict between Agew and Gumuz. The study employs relational ethnography research design. The data collected through in-depth interview, observation, informal conversation, and review of available documents is analysed thematically. The conflict between the two ethnic groups in the period is explained based on the assumption of horizontal and longitudinal deprivation. The paper demonstrates that coincidence of relative deprivation with ethnic line is creating favourable conditions for violent conflicts in the study area. In the period, Agews felt deprived of political resources in contrast to their history and Gumuz. On the other hand, though Gumuz are politically empowered, the socio-economic status of the people is hardly comparable with the Agew and other non-indigenous ethnic groups. The salience of ethnicity in the period has also been providing opportunity for elites to mobilize the mass for violence. But, the study argues the transformation of dormant conflicts into violence is determined by cost and benefit analysis of the action rather than by a mere mobilization of elites. Accordingly, in the period instigating violence seems persuasive for Gumuz than Agew. The finding implies that when the underlying conditions of relative deprivation are eliminated, the motive to use violence as a political instrument can also be minimized.

Key words: Ethnicity, ethnic conflict, relative deprivation, ethnic federalism, indigenous ethnic groups, non-indigenous ethnic groups.