Dr Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael

Dr Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael

International Development Department
Research Fellow

Contact details

Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael is a dedicated activist scholar with a keen interest in the political economy of urban transformation and the citizens’ struggle for the right to the city. His academic background encompasses Sociology, Development Studies, and Urban Management and Planning. 

For his doctoral dissertation, Ezana delved into how Ethiopia’s aspiring developmental state leveraged inner-city slum redevelopment for political and economic objectives and how residents navigated their citizenship within a repressive political environment. To broaden his research impact, Ezana undertook action-oriented research in one of Addis Ababa’s slums, Ethiopia, in collaboration with local research partners. This research led to the development of an innovative methodology that facilitated the co-production of knowledge about informal settlement residents, integrating community-led mapping and participatory photography using smartphones. 

Ezana has also collaborated on a research project analysing the rapid economic growth in Ethiopia (2004-2018) using political economy perspectives and analysing the performance of poverty reduction in four African countries using a political settlement framework. 

Prior to his current role, Ezana served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC). In his capacity, he conducted comparative analyses of the politics of informal settlement consolidation in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He also supported various research activities within ACRC. He also contributed to advancing “urban reform coalitions” conceptual and strategic understanding. 

Ezana is currently a Research Fellow at the Research Commissioning Centre. In this capacity, he is tasked with delivering high-quality, policy-relevant research and supporting the academic function of the Centre.


  • PhD, Planning and Environmental Management, 2018
  • M.Sc., Urban Management and Development, 2011
  • M.A., Regional and Local Development Studies, 2007
  • B.A., Sociology and Social Anthropology, 2005


Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael’s career was inspired by his personal experiences growing up in an Addis Ababa slum. Witnessing the destruction of his childhood neighbourhood and the displacement of his neighbours for upscale development sparked his academic pursuit to understand and challenge the forces shaping urban transformations, particularly those affecting low-income groups. 

Ezana’s academic journey began with an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology, followed by a postgraduate degree in Regional and Local Development Studies from Addis Ababa University. He furthered his studies with an MSc in Urban Management and Development from the Institute of Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus University Rotterdam. His postgraduate thesis focused on the factors influencing affected group participation in an inner-city slum redevelopment in Addis Ababa. 

Ezana was awarded a PhD in Planning and Environmental Management from the University of Manchester, where he examined the framing of the 2008-2017 inner-city slum redevelopment in Ethiopia and the responses of affected residents within a repressive political context. His doctoral research analysed how Ethiopia's aspiring developmental state uses inner-city slum redevelopment for its political and economic ends and how slum residents strategised to minimise the adverse effect of development-induced displacement under a repressive political context. 

Building on his PhD, Ezana secured a GCRF Visiting Fellowship at the University of Manchester in 2020-21. This opportunity allowed him to conduct collaborative, action-oriented research in an inner-city slum area of Addis Ababa. Working with local research partners, he facilitated the mobilisation of women in informal settlements into saving groups and co-produced knowledge about their settlements using community-led mapping and participatory photography. This research aimed to empower disadvantaged women in the COVID-19 response and post-COVID-19 development interventions. 

Additionally, he collaborated with other academics on various political economy research projects, such as the “Political Determinants of Rapid Economic Growth in Ethiopia (2004-2018)” and political settlement analysis of poverty reduction performance across four African countries. 

In addition to his research experience, Ezana has served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC), an FCDO-commissioned research program based at the University of Manchester. In his capacity as a postdoc researcher, he conducted comparative research entitled “The Political Economy of Grassroots Mobilisation of Informal Settlement Residents in Harare, Zimbabwe and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.” He also co-led ACRC’s workstream analysing urban reform coalitions within African cities and beyond. He was also responsible for supporting cross-cutting themes research on climate change, urban finance, and gender; supporting the development of an African urban reform database; collaborating in housing domain research; and publishing academic papers and blog posts. 

In addition to his research experience, Ezana has taught at postgraduate level Urban Development Planning course units at the University of Manchester and Ethiopian Civil Service University. He has acted as a course leader for such as Urban Development Planning in Cities of the South (Semester I) and Best Practice Case Studies in Urban Development Planning in Cities of the Global South (Semester II) postgraduate course units at the University of Manchester.


Research interests

  • The political economy of urban physical transformation
  • Struggle for urban citizenship
  • Coalition and alliance-building
  • Comparative urbanism
  • Transnational real estate development 

 Current projects

  • The Political Economy of Grassroots Mobilisation of Informal Settlement Residents in Harare, Zimbabwe and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Catalysing urban reform through coalition-building: Towards a Conceptual Framework


Journal Articles

Book Chapter

  • Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael, 2016, “Urban Redevelopment Project and Community Participation: The case of Senga Tera Fird Bet 1 in Addis Ababa” in E. Ficquet, Ahmed Hassen, and T. Osmond eds, Movements in Ethiopia, Ethiopia in Movement. Proceedings of the 18th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies. Volume 1, Los Angeles, Tsehai Publishers, pp. 297-309

Working Paper


  • Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael, 2010, Responsibility of the Ethiopian Floriculture Industry to its Workers: An Analysis of  the Working Condition of Four Flower Farms and Views of Stakeholders,  Saarbrücken, VDM Verlag Dr Müller

Blog post Article

  • Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael (February 14, 2022), Addis Ababa yet to meet the needs of residents: What has to change, The Conversation
Ezana Haddis Weldeghebrael (Feb 8, 2023): How do you build an inclusive urban reform coalition? African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC)

View all publications in research portal