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ADEQUATE CONSULTATION AND DIALOGUE WITH LOCAL COMMUNITY; UNLOCKING THE UNTAPPED POTENTIAL FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT; EVIDENCE FROM SOUTH OMO ZONE [Abstract ID: 0306-01]
This paper argues that adequate consultation and public dialogue at a grass-roots level are two potential entry points in times of development interventions, fostering peace among geographically close people and a subsequent foundation for development. The study was undertaken to examine whether the agro-pastoral communities of South Omo zone were jeopardized as a result of the Omo Kuraz Sugar development project or not. Adopting an Ethnographic design, the study combines primary data collected through participant observation, focus group discussion and key informant interviews, surmising that there were attempts to consult the indigenous people, though these attempts were not adequate. It also indicates that despite the absence of compensation for the local displaced people due to their mobile life, the people were not endangered as a result of the project. This project, as a development project that is established at the communal land of the agro-pastoralists, is providing training for the nearby people to hire them in its various offices. Far from the claims of various overseas institutions which purported that agro-pastoral communities would miserably suffer from such a project, the people considered it as if it was their own project. Generally, the study implies that South Omo zone is a counterexample of how local level consultation and a wide range of dialogue are indispensable preconditions to foster peace and development in many pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of the country.