Gambela (Amharic:ጋምቤላ) is one of the nine ethnic divisions (kililoch) of Ethiopia. Previously known as Region 12, its capital is Gambela. Lying between the Baro and Akobo Rivers, the western part of Gambela includes the Baro salient.
Located in Gambela is Gambela National Park, which covers approximately 5061 square kilometers or 19.6% of the Region's territory.
Based on the 2007 Census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), the Gambela Region has total population of 306,916, consisting of 159,679 men and 147,237 women; urban inhabitants number 77,878 or 25.37% of the population. With an estimated area of 25,802.01 square kilometers, this region has an estimated density of 9.57 people per square kilometer. For the entire Region 65,445 households were counted, which results in an average for the Region of 4.6 persons to a household, with urban households having on average 3.9 and rural households 5.0 people. The main ethnicities of the region are the Nuer (46.65%), the Anuak (21.17%), Amhara (8.42%), Kafficho (5%), Oromo (4.83%), Kambaata (1.44%), Mezhenger (4%), Shakacho (2.27%), Tigrean (1.32%) and other ethnic groups predominantly from southern Ethiopia 4.9%. 70% of the region's population are Protestant, 16.8% Orthodox Christian, 3.8% practice traditional religions, 4.9% Muslim, 3.4% Catholic, and others constitute 1.1% Gambela is the historic home of the indigenous Anuak. In recent years there has been significant violence between the Anuak and more recently arrived Ethiopians, who are generally referred to as "Highlanders".
These estimates are based on the 1994 census, in which the region's population was reported to be 181,862 in 35,940 households, of whom 92,902 were men and 88,960 women; 27,424 or 15.08% of the population were urban inhabitants. (This total also includes an estimate for all 19 kebeles of one woreda and 6 kebeles in two other woredas, which were not counted; these areas were estimated to have 19,465 inhabitants, of whom 9,203 were men and 10,262 women.) The six largest ethnic groups of the region were the Nuer (39.7%), the Anuak (27.45%), Amhara (7.74%), Oromo (6.49%), Mezhenger (5.76%), and Kafficho (4.18%); all other other ethnic groups made up 8.68% of the population. Nuer is spoken as a first language by 39.72%, 27.47% speak Anuak, 8.44% Amharic, 6.45% Oromiffa, and 5.75% speak Majang; the remaining 12.17% spoke all other primary languages reported. A plurality of the inhabitants said they were Protestant, with 44.01% of the population reporting answers in that category, while 24.13% professed Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, 10.28% practiced traditional religions, 5.15% were Muslim, and 3.21% were Catholic.
Values for reported common indicators of the standard of living for Gambela as of 2005[update] include the following: 44% of the inhabitants fall into the lowest wealth quintile; adult literacy for men is 57.5% and for women 22.8%; and the Regional infant mortality rate is 92 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, which is greater than the nationwide average of 77; at least half of these deaths occurred in the infants’ first month of life.
The CSA reported that for 2004-2005 3,734 tons of coffee were produced in Gambela, based on inspection records from the Ethiopian Coffee and Tea authority. This represents 1.64% of the total production in Ethiopia. The CSA could not provide livestock estimates for Gambela.In a 26 May 2000 report, the FAO observed that at the time Trypanosomiasis was a major problem in cattle for this Region. There was an epidemic of this disease in the area during 1970.
Gambela is believed to have major oil resources. In June 2003, the Ethiopian government signed an agreement with Petronas of Malaysia for the joint exploration and development of oil resources in Gambella region. Petronas then awarded a contract for seismic data acquisition to China’s Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau (ZPEB) October of that year.
The Water and Mines Resources Development Bureau of Gambela announced January 2007 that it was initiating a program that would drill 13 new manually-operated wells, 54 new deep water wells, and develop four springs. This would provide access to drinking water for 26,000 inhabitants, increasing coverage for the state to 42 percent from the existing 27 percent, at a cost of 6 million Birr. Construction of an asphalt road 102 kilometers in length and connecting Gambela City with Jikawo by way of Itang was begun in 2008 with a budget over 446 million Birr.
Presidents of the Executive Committee
- Okello Ouman 1992 - 1997
- Okello Gnigelo (GPDF) August 1997 - 2003
- Okello Akway 2003 - 2004
- Keat Tuach Bithow (acting) January 2004 - 2005
- Umed Ubong (GPDM) 29 September 2005 - Present
(This list is based on information from Worldstatesmen.org.)
Like other Regions in Ethiopia, Gambela is subdivided into administrative zones (and one special woreda, an administrative subdivision which is similar to an autonomous area and is not part of a zone). However, these zones have not been given proper names.
Woredas in the Gambela Region
- "Census 2007", first draft, Tables 1, 4, 5, 6.
- 1994 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Results for Gambela Region, Vol. 1, Tables 2.1, 2.7, 2.15, 2.18, 2.23 (accessed 1 September 2009)
- Macro International Inc. "2008. Ethiopia Atlas of Key Demographic and Health Indicators, 2005." (Calverton: Macro International, 2008), pp. 2, 3, 10 (accessed 28 January 2009)
- CSA 2005 National Statistics, Table D.2.
- "Special Report FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Ethiopia", section 4.5. (Accessed 21 June 2006)
- "Local History in Ethiopia" (pdf) The Nordic Africa Institute website (accessed 29 January 2008)
- "Seismic Survey Project in Ethiopia Put into Operation" (ZPEB press release)
- "Bureau launches 71 water projects in Gambella State" (Walta Information Center)
- "Construction of Gambella-Etang-Jikawo asphalt road well in progress", Ethiopian News Agency, 13 May 2009 (accessed 30 May 2009)
- The DPPA map of the Gambela Region shows a different set of woredas for Zone 2 CSA list, or on the UN-OCHA map: although all show Abobo woreda, in the area where the UN-OCHA map (copyright 2003) shows Gog and Jor the DPPA map (copyright 2006) instead shows the Gilo and Dimma woredas. The CSA only provides statistics for Gog and Jor in their latest population estimates.
- FDRE States: Basic Information - Gambella
- "Violence in Gambella: An Overview" on the site of Oxfam America.
- Map of Gambela Region at UN-OCHA (PDF file)
- Map of the Gambela Region at the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA) of Ethiopia (PDF file)
- Medhane Tadesse, "Gambella: The impact of local conflict on regional security" (PDF file)