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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Boise, Idaho » Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #334678

Research Project: Assessment, Conservation and Management of Rangelands in Transition

Location: Watershed Management Research

Title: Pastoral mobility and policy recommendations for livestock herding in the Borana pastoral system in southern Ethiopia

Author
item Liao, Chuan - University Of Michigan
item Clark, Pat
item Degloria, Stephen - Cornell University - New York
item Mude, Andrew - International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) - Kenya
item Barrett, Christopher - Cornell University - New York

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/6/2016
Publication Date: 9/29/2016
Citation: Liao, C., Clark, P., Degloria, S., Mude, A., Barrett, C. 2016. Pastoral mobility and policy recommendations for livestock herding in the Borana pastoral system in southern Ethiopia. ICARDA Dryland Systems.

Interpretive Summary: Livelihoods of pastoralists in the Borana Zone of southern Ethiopia have become increasingly vulnerable as a result of stressors like accelerating population growth, shrinking resource availability, sedentarization, and increased frequency and severity of drought. A research team from the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Cornell University, International Livestock Research Institute, and University of Sydney used GPS tracking technologies on cattle herds from 5 study areas in Borana to evaluate the role of pastoral mobility strategies play in coping with these stressors. Three conceptual models; i) restricted herding, ii) semi-extensive herding, and iii) extensive herding, were found to represent the dominant mobility strategies of Borana pastoralists which span the range from heavy sedentarization where recursive livestock use is the norm to high mobility and well-dispersed livestock use. These finding support the argument that rather than imposing or encouraging sedentarization, range management policies should promote mobility and resiliency by encouraging traditional mechanisms like reciprocity-of-use agreements which allow drought-stricken pastoralists to migrate to distant, less impacted lands and then reciprocate in turn by sharing their grazing lands with migrant herds.

Technical Abstract: Livelihoods of pastoralists in the Borana Zone of southern Ethiopia have become increasingly vulnerable as a result of stressors like accelerating population growth, shrinking resource availability, sedentarization, and increased frequency and severity of drought. A research team from the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Cornell University, International Livestock Research Institute, and University of Sydney used GPS tracking collars on cattle herds of 20 pastoralist households from 5 study areas in Borana to evaluate the role of pastoral mobility strategies play in coping with these stressors. Three conceptual models; i) restricted herding, ii) semi-extensive herding, and iii) extensive herding, were found to represent the dominant mobility strategies of Borana pastoralists. The restricted herding model represents pastoralism in densely-populated areas where households are sedentarized, herd movement occurs along heavily-used travel corridors, and foraging areas are small and tightly confined. Recursive livestock use and accelerated rangeland degradation are the norms here. Extensive herding is characterized by high mobility, seasonal movement among multiple remote camps, and livestock-use patterns which are spatiotemporally well dispersed. Semi-extensive herding represents an intermediate case where mobility is greater than the restricted herding model but some recursive livestock use and associated degradation still occurs. These finding support the argument that rather than imposing or encouraging sedentarization, range management policies should promote mobility and resiliency by encouraging traditional mechanisms like reciprocity-of-use agreements which allow drought-stricken pastoralists to migrate to distant, less impacted lands and then reciprocate in turn by sharing their grazing lands with migrant herds. Policy changes of this sort would go far in helping reduce the vulnerability of pastoral livelihoods challenged by ballooning rural populations, increasing resource competition, and the changing climate.