Environmental rights and Pastorlal livelihoods: The case of Borena and Kaarrayu pastoralists in Ethiopia

Eyasu Elias


Pastoralists in Ethiopia make an immense contribution to the national economy despite living in some of the most inhospitable and drought-prone parts of the country. Their traditional migratory lifestyle and knowledge of dryland resource management has allowed them to generally withstand drought and to maintain a healthy and biodiverse ecosystem in their communally-managed rangelands. However, Policies have favoured externally-imposed development schemes which often alienate and expropriate pastoral lands in favour of large-scale commercial activities. Resource alienation and curtailment of mobility has prevented pastoralists from accessing their traditional grazing and watering areas. Main reasons are commercial plantations, ranches and national parks have made pastoral households vulnerable to frequent droughts, food insecurity and famine. This paper illustrates the extent and forms of land alienation and its impacts on pastoral livelihoods through field research done among the pastoralist and agropastoralist communities of Southern Ethiopia. The research found that livestock numbers are declining dramatically, land degradation is increasing, and people are becoming more vulnerable to food insecurity. The internal responses employed by pastoralists have become inadequate in the face of the pressures and changes that take place too fast to allow for a positive adaptation. The study concludes that support is needed to scale up pastoralists’ efforts to diversify their livelihoods. The recent land registration and certification process has ensured usufruct rights for farmers but these efforts have not been implemented in the pastoral areas. The need for protecting pastoralists’ culture and practice of mobility is highlighted in order ensure effective use of the dispersed dryland resources through giving legal backing to customary institutions.




Key words: pastoralists, mobility, land alienation, dryland, vulnerability, coping, Borena, Karrayu, Ethiopia

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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