Inter-connection Between El-Niño-Southern Oscillation Induced Rainfall Variability, Livestock Population Dynamics and Pastoralists Adaptation Strategies in Eastern Ethiopia

Hassen Ahmed


Extreme climatic events significantly limit livestock performance in semiarid tropics. We assessed the effect of El-Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) rainfall variability episodes on livestock population dynamics of pastoral communities in Shinile zone of eastern Ethiopia. Rainfall and ENSO data from 1984-2015 were collected from the National Meteorology Agency of Ethiopia and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, respectively. Future rainfall trend was predicted with MarkSim (RCP 4.5 General Circulation Model). Livestock population was collected from Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency and the respective study zone. The analysis of rainfall data revealed that there was higher inter-annual rainfall variability under pastoral communities during studied years. Cattle and sheep had positively associated (P<0.05) with mean annual rainfall of ENSO events, whereas the population of goat and camel were also positively associated with mean annual rainfall (P>0.05). Cattle mortality and off-take rate had a significant negative relationship with ENSO rainfall variability. Hence, ENSO rainfall variability has affected livestock population dynamics, mortality and off-take rates. Accordingly, pastoral communities are being practicing settlement around watering points, seasonal mobility and destocking as adaptation strategies. However, the lack of climate information ahead, shortage of watering points and mobility restriction were major adaptation challenges under pastoral communities. Moreover, the predicted annual rainfall variability and increasing temperature (2020-2100) would also likely to affect the livestock potential in pastoral areas. Therefore, we recommended implementation of appropriate early warning systems and disseminate ENSO information ahead to minimize the loss of livestock that would affect the fragile livelihoods of pastoral communities.

Keywords: El-Niño; La-Niño; Livestock mortality; Off-take rate; Rainfall variability; Rainfall prediction; Trend analysis.

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

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