Contested margins of Afar Triangle in the Horn
The “Afar Triangle” straddles Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. For over a century, it has been at the centre of state building and contestation between state and society. Its current relevance lies in the overlapping contestations of power, economic development and nationhood that mark the struggles of the Afar people with their pastoralist tradition. Understanding the challenges, dynamics, histories and continuities of this situation can help in providing future support to Afar development – across all three countries, but particularly in Ethiopia, where the majority of the Afar live.
Working Paper 94 of Futures Agricultures “Contested margins, complex pathways: the Afar Triangle in the Horn of Africa” (2014, 17pp) by Alan Nicol and Mosope Otulana traces key social, political and environmental issues and argues that the Afar Triangle represents many overlapping and contested “margins” which range from areas of contested (political) control to territorial group identity, and from temperature gradients and rainfall isohyets to environmental and agroecological margins. These patterns determine the range and extent of Afar pastoral systems and their interactions with other (often competing) social groups. The paper identifies key interrelationships between these margins and how they affect the security of Afar livelihoods.