Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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DISEASE ECOLOGY OF METEKEL, 1890S TO 1990S [Abstract ID: 0609-02]

AYENEW Fenta, PhD Candidate at AAu

This Paper investigates the problems of Malaria and Trypanosomiasis in Metekel (Northwestern Ethiopia), which had been major hindrance for social and economic development of the region. Disease is one of the environmental factors that affected human settlement patterns as well as agricultural and livestock economies. Lowland parts of Metekel were highly infested with malaria and trypanosomiasis. Because of the infestation of these diseases, people were not interested for long in history to settle in lowland parts of the region. Thus, the vast lowlands of Metekel remained uninhabited except very sparsely populated Gumuz communities who were not plow agriculturalists or cattle herders. They were hoe cultivators because plow-oxen could not survive in the region due to the prevalence of trypanosomiasis. The Gumuz also had a traditional system of treating malaria in addition to their natural resistance developed due to long years of their dwelling in the region. Highlanders’ settlement in the lowland parts of the region and government efforts to control the problems of malaria and trypanosomiasis were recent developments. The Imperial regime attempted to eradicate malaria beginning from the early 1960s, but failed. Thus, efforts of eradication turned to control program. The Derg regime also continued with the control program. However, malaria remained number one killer of people in the region. The problem of trypanosomiasis was also deep-rooted in the region of Metekel. Efforts to control the problem of trypanosomiasis began in the region during the Derg period after the implementation of the 1985/6 conventional settlement program. Both primary and secondary sources of data is used in the research. The researcher has collected primary and secondary documents from archive centers of Debremarkos University, Ministry of Agriculture, National Archive and Library Agency, and Woldemeskel Archive Center. Furthermore, the researcher has also collected oral sources from all districts of Metekel during fieldwork in 2015/6. These sources were cross-checked and critically analyzed to organize this paper. This paper helps to understand how disease affects social and economic life of a society. Further, it can be considered as a stepping-stone for other researchers who are interested in understanding the interface between human-environment.