Socioeconomic and Ecological Transitions of Pastoral System in Semi-arid Areas of Rift Valley, Fentale District, Ethiopia

Document Type : Research and Full Length Article

Author

Adami Tulu Agricultural Research Center, P.O.Box 35, Batu, Ethiopia

Abstract

Pastoralism contributes significantly to the national economy and livelihoods of pastoralists in Ethiopia. However, socio-ecologically considerable variations exist between pastoral systems of the country in terms of the drivers they are currently experiencing and the impact of these drivers. This study was conducted in Fentale district, Ethiopia, to understand the perceived transitions of the pastoral system and the key factors driving this transition over the last two decades. Data were collected through a household survey (n = 60), focus group discussions, and key informant interviews. The results showed that the decline in livestock holding per household (4.90) and livestock mobility (4.41), expansion of cultivation (4.83), degradation of rangeland (4.79), and migration (4.26) were perceived to occur. The perceived transformations in the pastoral system were primarily driven by population growth (4.81), land (4.76) and water shortage (4.29), adoption of cultivation (4.67), and climate change (3.78). The complex nature of pastoral development makes the isolation of root causes of transformation in the pastoral systems more difficult. The combined effects of the observed transitions and their drivers had been driving pastoralists into non-livestock-based livelihood strategies. Such diversification indicated that livestock alone would not sustainably maintain the livelihood of pastoralists. The intensification of livestock production is also being adopted by pastoralists as a coping strategy for the perceived transitions. The pastoral system needs to be supported by policies that are consistent with existing situations and future expectations. Therefore, an enabling policy environment considering livestock intensification and economic diversification need to put into place. However, a holistic understanding of a pastoral system and its transition and the likely trade-offs associated with different livelihood strategies in this system is a prerequisite.

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