Sustaining pastoralism in southern Ethiopia: Ecosystem dynamics, policy, and development.
Coppock, D.1, 1 Utah State University, Logan, Utah
ABSTRACT- The Borana rangelands occupy 95,000 square kilometers of semi-arid savannah at 1,000 to 1,700 m elevation. The region is inhabited by over 500,000 people and nearly two million Tropical Livestock Units. The pastoral system is economically important for the nation due to production of high quality cattle and small ruminants for export, although export demand is erratic. Infrastructure is relatively well developed, but the pastoral population is in a downward spiral of increasing poverty and the environment is at risk of degradation. Research has been conducted here since 1981. Major findings suggest that human population growth drives most aspects of change. A "boom-and-bust" in livestock numbers has a periodicity of seven years and indicates a dynamic, equilibrial system. Herd crashes most likely occur in years of high stocking rates and low rainfall. Crashes result in large losses of livestock capital and put humans at risk of famine. Lack of domestic demand makes revenue from animal sales problematic during crises when pastoralists urgently need to buy non-pastoral foods. To help buffer the human population, food aid from abroad is now ubiquitous. The system is therefore subsidized and probably unsustainable. The main solution to the problem is reduction in the local human population, but lack of jobs outside the system, low levels of education, and persistence of cultural mores restrict options to include small-scale economic diversification, restoration of key ecological resources, and facilitation of marketing linkages. Such interventions, however, are unlikely to be sustained without improvements in governance and policy implementation at local, regional, and federal levels. This presentation synthesizes key findings from 20 years of research, and highlights some recent successes involving community partcipatory action research, inter-agency intitiatives, and effective collaboration with policy makers.
Key words: east african rangelands , community collaboration, borana, participatory research
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