Livelihood diversification in Borana pastoral communities of Ethiopia - prospects and challenges

Livelihood diversification in Borana pastoral communities of Ethiopia - prospects and challenges

Livelihood diversification in Ethiopian pastoral communities

This paper analyses the livelihoods of the Borana pastoral communities of Southern Oromiya in Ethiopia. It aims to inform policy makers, donors, and development practitioners about the best strategies for protecting and promoting sustainable livelihoods in the region. The study is based on survey data from participatory research carried out in three communities, as well as stakeholder consultations at district and regional levels.

The study draws the following conclusions:

• livestock mobility can potentially allow higher productivity, due to changing environment, water and feed sources and better pasture supply

• mobility is limited by a number of factors, including population growth, settlement, land claims by different ethnic groups on rangelands and drought

• richer households oppose expansion of croplands, as they have more livestock, while the poor have fewer livestock and want more cropland to diversify income

• agro-pastoralists are significantly poorer than the pure pastoral communities, indicating that farming has been adapted to cope with food insecurity caused by declining livestock herd

• pastoralists have also diversified into petty trades, wage, remittance, firewood and charcoal production, and incense collection.

The paper makes a number of recommendations, which include:

• policy makers should seek to avoid conflict between crop producers and large livestock owners through appropriate land use policy designed with participation of all stakeholders

• government should recognise that mobility of livestock is an important livelihood option in the pastoral areas

• investment in rural infrastructure such as roads, radio and other means of communication in the pastoral areas would help increase market access and allow information sharing for early warning

• asset ownership by women would help poor households create an asset base.

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