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Capacity building helps to increase the security of Ethiopian pastoral societies

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:48 AM
Contributors: Layne Coppock, Solomon Destam Seymoum Tezera, Getachew Gubru
© 2012. Livestock-Climate CRSP
In a recent publication from Science magazine, Layne Coppock, Solomon Destam Seymoum Tezera and Getachew Gubru of Utah State University (whose research has been funded in the past by the former Global Livestock-CRSP), researched the outcomes of capacity building in pastoral Ethiopia, which has proved to be a major ‘driver’ for change and hope for the future.

Pastoralist societies depend on domesticated livestock for sustenance and in the past were able to maintain a constant source of food, livestock and resources for the low population of people. Now, they are facing some of the highest poverty rates with a larger population and one of the longest droughts hindering their livestock productions and resource availability.

The authors state, “Human population growth, overgrazing, annexation of key resources by outside entities, physical insecurity, and underinvestment in pastoral areas contribute to declining per capita food production, reduced vegetation cover, increased soil erosion, loss of herd mobility, and more marginalized people.” The socio-economic problems can lead to the damage of natural cycles, which increases drought occurrences and lowers incomes for the pastoralists.

To help the people of the Borana Plateau, the researchers proposed, “The main objective of this research was to determine whether pastoral livelihoods…could be diversified in a sustainable fashion.” The study used action groups to help diagnose and refine problems, which lead to changes through “implementing interventions.” They hypothesized this method would increase income, reduce hunger and improve quality of well being.

In 2004, there were 59 collective action groups, with 2300 members and 76% who are women. The researchers assessed different qualities of the two different communities over 3 years and found that, “Respondents from the capacity building with the trade grant as well as the other treatments perceived an increase in wealth and reduction in hunger…participants shifted livelihood strategies to include more small-business activities and diversification, while maintaining heard building.”

Through this study, Coppock and his team have concluded that collective action is a valuable development practice, especially for women in underprivileged areas. “Careful capacity-building processes can provide durable, cost-effective, and low-risk options for improving the human condition in marginal lands.”

For the future, the challenges will include delivering effective capacity building models to the pastoral population, while sustaining livestock sales through the harmful effects of drought. Technology and human development are the necessary ‘tools’ to advance in these areas and to improve the livelihoods where the pastoralist system is used, while sustaining the proper amount resources.

Abstract/Reprint  (The abstract and reprint PDF for the main hard-copy article plus the 71 references and notes.)

Online Supplement  (The online supplement that Science also publishes has more study area background, most of the tabular results, and all the methods.)

Report for Practitioners (A 65-page report for practitioners that includes details as to how the interventions were managed, as well as qualitative accounts from pastoral women and men involved in  the project.)

Project Film (A 15-minute film on the project by journalist Robert Caputo)

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