Gambella Profile

Gambella is one of the nine ethnic divisions (kililoch) of Ethiopia. Previously known as Region 12, its capital is Gambella.

Situated in the western tip of Ethiopia bordering with Sudan in the West, South and North. It Size is 25,802.01 square kilometers with estimated population of over 247,000 inhabitants. The main nationalities of the region are: Anyuak, Nur, Mezhenger, komo and Opo. Moreover, the other ethnic groups predominantly from high land of Ethiopia live in the region. Lying between the Baro and Akobo Rivers, the western part of Gambella includes the Baro salient. Located in Gambela is Gambella 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 Gambella 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%[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, of whom 92,090 were men and 88,960 women. 84.9% of the population (153,438) lived in rural areas. The main ethnicities of the region are the Nuer (40%), the Anuak (27%), Amhara (8%), Oromo (6%), Mezhenger (5.8%), Kafficho (4.1%), Mocha (2%), Tigrean (1.6%), and other ethnic groups 5.5%. Amharic is the working language of the region. 44% of the region's population are Protestant, 24.1% Orthodox Christian, 10.3% practice traditional religions, 5.1% Muslim, 3.2% Catholic, and others constitute 12.7%. Values for reported common indicators of the standard of living for Gambella 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 Gambella, 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 Gambella.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. Gambella 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 Gambella announced 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.

Gambella political parties and history

Here are the quick facts:

Gambella Peoples’ Unity Democratic Movement, (GPUDM) is a political party in the Gambella Region of Ethiopia. It is the regional ally of the ruling EPRDF coalition. The GPUDM was founded as the new regional EPRDF ally in 2003. Its predecessors were the Gambella People’s Liberation Movement (GPLM), which was in existence 1991–1998, and the Gambella People’s Democratic Front (GPDF), in existence 1998–2003.


The GPLM was founded in 1979 and was based in the Anuak ethnic group.This group launched a guerrilla war against both the Derg regime of Ethiopia and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The latter had a major base in Gambella and had committed numerous atrocities against the local inhabitants; however the GPLM was unable to mobilize more than a negligible portion of the population and never held any liberated area before the fall of the Derg in 1991. With the end of the Ethiopian Civil War, Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) forces, accompanied by a small contingent of the GPLM, occupied Gambella and expelled the SPLA. Now in power, the GPLM removed the predominantly Nuer leadership that had dominated the province under the Derg, as well as settling old scores with its ethnic rival. In response, the Nuer organized the Gambela People's Democratic Unity Party (GPDUP), which was immediately recognised by the EPRDF. Despite the GPLM's hold on power it was weakened by internal disputes, predominantly between Anuak from villages along the Openo (or Baro River), who known as "the Openo boys", and those from villages along the Gilo River. The first group, including Regional President Okello Oman, were expelled from the GPLM before the 1995 General Election. In response to this situation, the EPRDF ordered the remaining members of the GPLM and the GPDUP to merge into the GPDF in 1998.

Formation of the GPUDM

This led dissatified Anuak to found the Gambella People’s Democratic Congress. Prior to the 2000 elections, many leaders of this opposition party were detained. In 2003, the central government dissolved the GPDF and replaced it with the GPUDM, a coalition of three newly founded ethnic-based parties. The three constituent parties were the Nuer People’s Democratic Organization for the Nuer and Opo, the Anyua People’s Democratic Organization for the Anuak and Komo, and the Majanger People’s Democratic Organization for the Majangir.

Presidents of the Executive Committee

Okello Oman (GPLM) 1992 - 1997

Okello Gnigelo (GPDF) August 1997 - 2003

Okello Akway (GPUDM) 2003 - 2004

Keat Tuach Bithow  (GPUDP)(acting) January 2004 - 2005

Omod Obang Olom (GPUDM) 29 September 2005 - 2014

Gatluak Tut Khot    (GPUDM) 2014 - Present

 Woredas of the Gambela Region and Zones

Like other Regions in Ethiopia, Gambella is subdivided into three zones, 13 woredas and 1 special woreda.

Anuak Zone

  • Abobo
  • Dimma
  • Gambella
  • Gambella Zuria
  • Gog
  • Jor

Nuer Zone

  • Akobo
  • Jikawo
  • Lare
  • Wentawo
  • Makuey

Mezhenger Zone

  • Godere
  • Mengesh

Special woreda

  • Itang