Gender Dimensions of Internal Displacement in the Central Gondar Zone

Gender Dimensions of Internal Displacement in the Central Gondar Zone

Abebech Chekol
In 2018, Ethiopia was among the top three countries in the world with the largest internally displaced populations due to conflict and violence, both of which are occurring in six regions, 19 zones & 42 districts. Chilga, East Dembiya and Armachiho districts have the highest population of internal displaced persons in the Central Gondar Zone. Because internal displacement affects men and women differently, the general objective of this study was to analyze gender dimension effects of internal displacement in the Chilga and East Dembiya districts in Central Gondar Zone. Both primary and secondary data sources were used. Primary data was gathered through questionnaires, and in-depth, key informants’ interviews. The concurrent parallel design was used and 364 respondents were engaged.

Quantitative data was analyzed through the use of descriptive statistics and qualitative data was analyzed through the use of narration and thematic analysis. The results showed that the major effects of internal displacement were insecurity (90%), loss of   livelihood (84%), disruption of social life (74%), homelessness (70%), health issues (70%), damaged crops (62%), poor hygiene (58%), stress (57%) and increased gender-based violence (55%). Due to women’s limited access to resources, information and mobility, as well as gender roles, women are disproportionately affected by these issues. Displaced women have greater exposur to gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancy, menstrual irregularities, stress, and depression. Not to mention that child birth is taking place in very complicated conditions. In general, internal displacement has economic, social, cultural, political and psychological effects on displaced persons, host communities and nations. However, the effects on women are compounded by their marginalization and the nature of their roles in society.  Having noted this, it is recommended that the government take these realities into account and protect the human rights of internally displaced women accordingly.


Keywords – Internal displacement, Gender based violence, Effects and Human right



Globally, the forcibly displaced population increased by 2.9 million in 2017 with a global total of 68.5 million individuals displaced due to persecution, conflict, or generalized violence by the end of the year (UNCHR, 2017).  About 30.6 million new internal displacements associated with conflict and disasters were recorded in 2017 across 143 countries and territories in developing countries             ( Internal Displacement Monitoring center, 2018). In 2018, Ethiopia had the largest percentage of IDPs in the world (Yigzaw, 2019).

According to several local and international reports, Ethiopia has topped all countries by recording the highest number of internally displaced people. For instance, a report from the Norwegian Refuge Council shows that conflict has uprooted about 1.4 million Ethiopians from their homes in  Amhara,  Somali, Oromia,  and  Southern  Nations, Nationalities, and People’s (SNNP) regions in 2018 alone (Norewegian Refuge Council, 2018). Similarly, the International Displacement Monitoring Center report indicated that a new conflict broke out in west Goji and Gedeo that caused more than a million new displacements in the first half of 2018 alone (Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, 2018).

Internally displaced people are the most vulnerable groups worldwide as compared to refugees who have legal protection by international communities. In general, internally displaced people have less legal protection because of the relatively little attention paid to them by international communities (Michele, 2013). Internally displaced people go through different socio-economic problems which extend from displacement to the recovery phases. According to a report from the International Organization for Migration on Internal Displacement, many displaced people live in camps and camp like settings where they face challenges from host communities (discrimination, exploitation and   severe deprivation) that increases their vulnerability to trafficking and risk of being recruitment into dangerous activities (International Organization for Migration, 2017).


Generally, internal displacement can have severe adverse effects on the physical, social, emotional and spiritual well-being of a person. However, the conditions affect women and men differently. Internally displaced women face a range of protection issues on a daily basis, most notably, sexual and gender-based violence (Brooking Institution, 2014). Therefore, this study is focused on the gender dimension of Internal Displacement and its specific effects on women in the East Dembiya and Chilga districts in the Central Gondar Zone.

Problem Statement of the Study

Internal displacement occurred in 6 regions, 19 zones and 42 districts in Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019 (Ministor of peace, 2019). In September 2018, more than 90,000 IDPs were displaced in the Amhara region especially from Chilga No.1 and No.2, as well as in the Eastern Dembiya and Armachiho localities due to longstanding tensions and sporadic conflicts between the Amhara and Qemant communities (International Organization for Migration, 2019). Many of those displaced are sheltered near T/Dingay town and western Dembiya’s Aymba kebeles (Amhara Region Report , 2019). According to a Chilga No.2 report, the homes and properties of around 17,000 internally displaced peoples who sheltered in Aymba and Azezo were damaged. That situation was especially difficult for women, children and elders who have limited mobility. 


Studies have been conducted on health and internal displacement related issues in Africa. These studies cover the health and social assessment of IDPs (Etikan and Ogujesa, 2019), health risks among vulnerable groups of IDPs (Suleiman, 2018) and an assessment of symptoms among IDPs (Harry et al, 2016). However, they fail to show the gender dimension effects of internal displacement. 

Although there have been many studies conducted in Ethiopia on the effects of internal displacement (Adisu, 2019; Dereje, 2019; Wakigril, 2019; Yigzaw, 2019; Abduselam and Belay , 2018; Habtamu and Jannel, 2017), none of these studies reflect on the gender dimension of internal displacement or the compounded effects of internal displacement for women. This study is an attempt to fill this gap.

Objective of the Study

The overall objective of this study is to assess the effects of internal displacement in Chilga and East Dembiya districts in the Central Gondar Zone using a gender lens. Specifically, the aim of the study is to identify the effects of internal displacement and its effects on women and men in the study area.


Description of the Study Area

Chilga No.1 and Chilga No.2 districts are found in the Central Gondar Zone which is 52 km away from Gondar city. The districts are bordered by the Armachho district (north), Takusa district (south), Metema district (west) and the Dembiya district (east).  Currently, Chilga No. 1 has 23 rural and 2 urban kebeles and Chilga No.2 has 16 rural kebeles.  

East Dembiya is a district with 34 kebeles in the Central Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region of Ethiopia. It borders Central Gondar (east), Chuahet (west), Lake Tana (south), and lower Armachiho and Chilga (north) and is situated 35 kilometers away from Gondar city.

This study was conducted in Tereb Seroka and Eyaho Kebeles in Chilga No.1, Laza Kebele in Chilga No.2, and Shemano, Meqamiya and Aderjeha Kebeles in the East Dembiya District.

Research Methods

Research Design and Approach

The study used a concurrent parallel design which is a single respondent at a single point in time while combining both quantitative and qualitative data gathering. The study also collected mixed research which is the use of both qualitative and quantitative data as a means to cross-check and verify the reliability and validity of the data collected (Meneill and Chapman, 2005).  

Sampling Techniques and Sample Size Determination

Probability and non-probability sampling techniques were used to select the study area, kebeles and respondents. For this, a multi-stage sampling procedure was employed.  First, Chilga No.1, No.2, and East Dembiya districts where selected purposely as sample kebeles because the issue of internal displacement was high and spread out across too many areas to gather research from. Then, the simple random sampling technique was employed to select respondents.  The sample from each kebele was determined based on proportion to allow for equal representation (Yemane, 1967; cited in Israel, 1992). The sample size method is mathematically represented as:

n = N/1-N (e) 2

‘n’ designates the sample size; ‘N’ designates total number of households in all sample kebeles (4102); ‘e’ designates the maximum variability or margin of error 5% (0.05); and ‘1’ designates the probability of the event occurring. Based on the formula above, the total of sample respondents is 364. 

Data Sources and Data Collection Methods

This study used both primary and secondary data sources. Primary data was collected through surveys, in depth interviews and key informants’ interviews. In depth interviews were held with internal displaced persons. Key informant interviews were held with district leaders and community representatives in the sample kebeles.  Secondary data was gathered from books, reports, journals, policy and legal documents.

Methods of Data Analyses

After collecting the data, analysis was conducted through both quantitative and qualitative methods. The 20.0 version of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Microsoft Excel was used to analyze and present the data. 

Results and Discussions

Characteristics of the Respondents

Of the survey respondents, 54 % were male and 46% were female, about which 38% were literate and 62% illeterate (Table 1). From the results, it is evident that there is a high illiteracy rate among the respondents, especially amongst women. It is important to assess literacy because access to information and knowledge is critical in being able to make decisions, negotiate and to have ownership of one’s life. Women are generally at a greater disadvantage because they have less access to educational opportunities than men.

Table 1: Sex and literacy of Respondents

Variables Frequency (#) Percentage (%)



197167 5446

              Literate – Male

              Literate – Female


              Illiterate – Male

               Illiterate – Female












Source: Field Survey Result, 2019/2020


Effects of Internal Displacement

As presented in figure 1, the respondents stated that the major effects of internal displacement include insecurity (90%), loss of livelihoods (84%), disruption of social life (74%), homelessness (70%), health problem (70%), crop damage (62%), poor hygiene (58%), stress (57%) and gender-based violence (55%). These results were confirmed through key informant interviews and in-depth interviews.


Figure 1: Effects of Internal Displacement in the Study Area (Multiple Response)

As noted, one of the respondents said:

“Internal Displacement has many negative effects. The major effects include homelessness, loss of livelihoods, loss of crops, loss of human life, violence, interruption of children’s education, food insecurity, family breakdown, stress and exposure to transmittable diseases.”


In addition to this, an in-depth interviewee added:

“Gender based violence, unwanted pregnancies, menstruation irregularity due to stress and depression, separation of family due to ethnic differences, insecurity, and limited mobility all increase women’s burdens.” 


This implies that internal displacement has many negative effects including economic, social, cultural, political and psychological effects. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (2018) findings state that internal displacement affects the lives of displaced people and their host communities in different ways which can have significant and long-lasting effects on their socio-economics development. However, internally displaced persons are more affected by internal displacement than the host communities and refugees. According to Michele (2013), internally displaced persons are the most vulnerable groups worldwide, as compared to refugees, because internally displaced persons are given less priority and therefore reveive less legal protection from international communities. Internal displacement affects the lives of displaced people in different ways according to the results and those results imply the violation of human rights.

Effects of Internal Displacement on Women & Men

The multiple effects of internal displacement affect women and men differently, especially considering insecurity, stress, gender-based violence, crop damage and poor hygiene (figure 2).  This was confirmed in both in-depth and key informants interviews.

Figure 2: Effects of Internal Displacement on Men and Women (multiple responses)

An in-depth interview participant stated…

“Women are more affected because of the three roles they play. This includes being a productive member of society that can reproduce and is community service oriented while having limited access to resources and information, limited mobility and voice in community as well as gender-based violence. Women are exposed to physical, mental and emotional strain and tension caused by their multiple responsibilities and limitations that overworks both their mind and body.”

One of the key informants who was working in Aymba said

“People who live in Aymba received around 13,000 internal displaced persons who came from Chilga No.1 & 2. The problems displaced persons have been facing so far include the lack of access to housing, food, and water. The local communities have helped by providing housing and collecting clothes and food, however, the situation was very difficult for women and children, especially pregnant women. Pregnant women have had to give birth under very complicated conditions with poor hygiene.”

The above narration highlights how internal displacement affects women and men differently, resulting in greater human rights violations experienced by women. For instance, displaced women face special challenges in accessing healthcare and have different needs, which, when not provided, can result in death, birthing complications, unplanned pregnancies and unattended childbirth (Brooking Institution, 2014; Mulugeta, 2010). Moreover, displaced women living in insecure shelters are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual violence. 

Theoretically, different international treaties have centered equal rights for women and men around economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights. For instance, International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in article (3) states that “the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant” (ICESCR, 1966). The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in article 3 indicated that “the right to equality between women and men in the enjoyment of their civil & political rights” (ICCPR, 1966). Ethiopia ratified these international treaties and incorporated its ideals into the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.  For example, in the constitution of FDRE in Article 9(4) it states that all international agreements ratified by Ethiopia are an integral part of the law of the land. In Article 35, the rights of women are referenced in the provision of economic, political, cultural, civil and political rights equal to that of men (FDRE, 1994). However, women and men do not enjoy the economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights equally, especially those that are internally displaced. 




The overall objective of this study is to assess the effects of internal displacement along gender lines in the Chilga and East Dembiya Districts in Central Gondar Zone. The study identified the effects of internal displacement on women and men in the study area.

The result of the study indicated that the major  effects of internal displacement including insecurity, loss of livelihoods, social life disruption, homelessness, health issues, crop damage, poor hygiene, stress, and gender-based violence, all of which affect both women and men, but affect women more and in a variety of ways due to gender roles. Insecurity, stress, gender-based violence, health issues, and limited access to resources and information disproportionately affect women.



The following are recommendations based on the conclusions:

  • Government action to protect and ensure the human rights of internally displaced women
  • Consentrated efforts to focus stakeholder’s (non-government organizations, the Government of Ethiopia, religious and higher education institutions) efforts on raising the community’s awareness about the effects of internal displacement on individuals, groups and the nation through trainings, conferences and extension services
  • Investigative research on the causes of the disproportional effects on women and mechanisms to improve the situation that involve both men and women

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