Ethiopia: Changing Climate Adaptation Strategies Of Boran Pastoralists In Southern Ethiopia

By M. Hurst, N. Jensen, S.H. Pedersen, A. Sharma, J.A. Zambriski, 2012

Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources | August 30, 2012


Boran pastoralist

This report contains information on a rapid field assessment of Boran pastoralists of southern Ethiopia to: (1) gauge local communities’ perceptions of the need for local climate change adaptation strategies and their degree of satisfaction with existing interventions; (2) identify emerging climate risk adaptation strategies; and (3) evaluate how existing and new strategies including efforts by non-governmental organizations and the Ethiopian government might complement or be compromised by index-based livestock insurance (IBLI). Researchers found that the Boran perceive changes in the frequency and intensity of drought conditions over the last several decades. The Boran also recognize the need to adapt to these shifts, and along with the government and NGOs who work in the region, are undertaking a number of climate change adaptation strategies. Some of these traditional and new responses to drought are likely to interact with the potential implementation of IBLI in both complementary and conflicting ways. Still, there are significant opportunities for IBLI to reduce exposure to risk while supporting existing veterinary services and rangeland management.


The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing a drought that is projected by organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank to be the worst in the region in nearly six decades. Over the last decade, drought has recurred in southern Ethiopia more frequently and for longer periods than documented previously. The region’s changing climate has resulted in diminished quantity and quality of local water and forage resources, thereby severely and negatively impacting the region’s livestock and the nomadic pastoralists, such as the Boran, who depend on these animals for livelihoods and subsistence. Lower than average rainfall in 1999-2005 (Conway and Schipper, 2010) and again in 2011 have caused mass die-offs of livestock, and have forced Boran pastoralists to adopt new coping mechanisms to manage increased risks associated with the region’s changing climate. Although new coping strategies may enable the Boran to better adapt to new or more severe climate-related events, stress and hardship for Boran pastoralists are likely to continue, or even increase, as climate scientists project increasingly frequent and severe drought events in the Borana region of southern Ethiopia (Ellis and Gavin, 1994).

Full Document


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