The Making of Urban boundaries in Ethiopia: The case in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, 1974-2018


  • Tegegne Sishaw Department of Geography, Haramaya University, Ethiopia
  • Adane Kassie Federal Policy Research Institute
  • Wagaw Bogale Department of History, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia
  • Tamrat Cheru Debre Birhan University


Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Administrative Boundary, Ethno linguistic, Making/remaking


The making/remaking of administrative boundary is a long practiced tradition of human beings. The making/remaking of the administrative boundaries of Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa has been a subject of great controversy in the administrative history of Ethiopia. The objective of this study was to investigate boundary making/remaking in Ethiopia focusing on Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa cities from 1974 to 2018. This is important because there were/are unprecedented interests between different groups following the 1991 ethno linguistic administrative boundary making/remaking. Moreover, there is lack of well documented research output regarding boundary making/remaking in Ethiopian cities. A qualitative research approach was employed to meet the objectives of the study. Primary and secondary data were collected through in-depth interview tools and document analysis. Several administrative policy documents enacted between 1907 and 2018 were consulted and meticulously analyzed for this study. It was observed that administrative boundary making/remaking become more frequent after 1991. This phenomenon also holds true for Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa cities where oromia region has an interest on both cities and Somali region on Dire Dawa city. The process and the procedures followed and individuals involved as committee members are not clear. With regard to Dire Dawa, beginning from 1993 the city was responsible to and was directed by the Federal government. These facts suggest that competition over these two cities and boundary making/remaking are still unclear and lack involvement of the wider residents of these cities. It is therefore suggested that the participation of concerned communities in any decision making pertaining to boundary making/remaking and other similar issues is indispensible.




How to Cite

Sishaw, T., Kassie, A., Bogale, W., & Cheru, T. (2023). The Making of Urban boundaries in Ethiopia: The case in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, 1974-2018. Ethiopian Renaissance Journal of Social Sciences and the Humanities, 10(2), 153–168. Retrieved from