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Au Calif
Kelafo is located in Ethiopia
Location within Ethiopia
Coordinates: 5°35′20″N 44°12′20″E / 5.58889°N 44.20556°E / 5.58889; 44.20556Coordinates: 5°35′20″N 44°12′20″E / 5.58889°N 44.20556°E / 5.58889; 44.20556
Country Ethiopia
Region Somali
Zone Gode
Elevation 233 m (764 ft)
Population (2005)
 • Total 14,242
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

Kelafo (Somali: Qalaafe) is a town in eastern Ethiopia. Located in the Gode Zone of the Somali Region, this town has a longitude and latitude of 05°35′20″N 44°12′20″E / 5.58889°N 44.20556°E / 5.58889; 44.20556 and an elevation of 233 meters above sea level.

The UN-OCHA-Ethiopia website provides details of the health clinic in Kelafo, which was built in 1991 with funds and equipment provided by the Australian government.[1] Kelafo is served by an airport (ICAO code HAKL), and a bridge across the Shebelle River which was scoured in the May 1995 floods.[2]


Kelafo had its start in 1923, under the leadership of Fitawrari Semmo. The town had been practically subjected to a siege by rebellious Somali, supported by Italian border soldiers. However, Sultan Orfa of Kelafo arranged the supplies so that the inhabitants did not die from hunger; in memory of this, the settlers tried to rename Kelafo "Wechefo Ketema". Ten years later, Dr Agge visited the town in September, and found it to be the hottest place he had experienced in the Ogaden. Kelafo was situated on a little hill on the southern side of the Shebelle, with a new motorable road and a small ferry. At the foot of the hill there was a settlement, with a palisade, a moat and two gates towards the river.[3]

During the Italian invasion, Sultan Olol Diinle ordered the town burned.[3]

During October 1961, the Kelafo was flooded with three meters of water. The Ethiopian Red Cross was amongst the organizations providing aid. The town experienced another flood on 7 May 1967, when a dam on the Shebelle collapsed, covering Kelafo with about 1.5 meters of water, which forced the 3,700 residents to evacuate.[3]

After an arrest of Nassir Allah members in 1963, a few avoided capture and made their way to Kelafo where they hoped to find arms. Armed with hand guns, two of this group attacked the policemen guarding the bridge over the Shebelle, killing three and taking two rifles. This act led to a flight of activists and chiefs before the expected reprisals.[3]

Early in the Ogaden War, Kelafo was captured by Somali units; it was recaptured 13 March 1978 by the Ethiopian 69th Brigade.[4]

In 1992, the clan of the Ogaden drove the local Hawiye and associated Rer Bare or Rer shabelle farming groups from Kelafo and the surrounding agricultural area. The refugees found sanctuary and assistance from the Hawiye in Beledweyn. Here the expelled Somali clans regrouped and launched a coordinated attack which brought them back to their settlements in the woreda. After the bloodshed, all groups involved negotiated a peace and agreed to share access to external resources provided to the Hawiye and Reer Bare -- which is reportedly the cause of the conflict.[5]


Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency in 2005, this town has an estimated total population of 14,242, of whom 7,522 are men and 6,720 are women.[6] The 1997 census reported this town had a total population of 9,551 of whom 4,970 were men and 4,581 women. The largest two ethnic groups reported in this town were the Somali (96.85%), and the Amhara (1%); all other ethnic groups made up 2.15% of the population.[7] It is the largest town in Kelafo woreda.


  1. ^ Frederic Vigneau, "Field Report of Gode and Kalafo zones", UN-OCHA website, August 1994 (accessed 26 February 2009)
  2. ^ "Update on Response to Floods of Gode Zone", UN-EUE June 1995 (accessed 26 February 2009)
  3. ^ a b c d "Local History in Ethiopia" The Nordic Africa Institute website (accessed 6 December 2007)
  4. ^ Gebru Tareke, "The Ethiopia-Somalia War of 1977 Revisited," International Journal of African Historical Studies, 2000 (33), p. 657
  5. ^ "Permanent agricultural settlements along the Webi Shabelle River in the Gode Zone of the Ethiopian Somali National Regional state", UNDP Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia report, dated November 1995 (accessed 26 February 2009)
  6. ^ CSA 2005 National Statistics, Table B.4
  7. ^ 1994 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Results for Somali Region, Vol. 1 Tables 2.4, 2.14 (accessed 10 January 2009). The results of the 1994 census in the Somali Region were not satisfactory, so the census was repeated in 1997.