Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Pathways of Livelihood Transformation among Borana of Southern Ethiopia

Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Pathways of Livelihood Transformation among Borana of Southern Ethiopia

Article excerpt


Pastoralism is the centuries old industry of the people in the Horn of Africa. However, pastoralism as a way of life has become the focus of social research agenda since the 1960s (Lewis, 1961; Mond, 1975; Baxter, 1975 and Helland, 1980). Various studies have documented a considerable knowledge regarding pastoral societies as related to their social organizations; pastoralists' relations with nature and their indigenous resource management practices; pastoralists' herd management; pastoralists' coping mechanism to natural disasters; the interrelations among various groups of pastoralists, and their relations with the nonpastoralist groups; and the ways by which the external interventions of the colonial powers in the early- periods, as well as by the interferences of their respective governments in the post-colonial times.

Studies that focused on the pastoralism as production system were able to document the diverging outlooks and perspectives of different actors towards pastoralism. First, 'early modernists' looked at pastoralism as a 'backward' and non-viable occupation. They regarded the pastoralists' people as those characterized by backward social organizations, and the production system requires large tracts of land, which leads to unwise resource utilization and subsequent land degradation. Some also argued that the mobility among pastoralists remains the main roadblock to introduce social and economic infrastructures (Horowitz & Little, 1987 and Getachew, 2001). The following would reflect the widely accepted stereotype during the colonial era: Consider paraphrasing using the correct tense.

These obstinately conservative nomads, wandering with their enormous herds from pasture to pasture, seem like dinosaurs or pterodactyls, survivors from a past age with a dying set of values... aristocratic, manly, free, doomed (Huxely 1948 cited in Anderson and Broch-Due 1999).

Second, some government actors in the Horn of Africa on their parts held the position that pastoralists live under the 'stateless' situation due to the latter's little integration to the central governments' structure, as well as their insignificant contribution to the government revenue, and to the national economic development at large. Pastoralists were also highly blamed for contributing to land resources degradation. Evidences show that some governments in the Horn of Africa have been putting a great deal of efforts to convert nomadic pastoralists into sedentary peasants (Anderson and Broch-Due, 1999, andHorowitz & Little, 1987).

Third, some academic and civil societies have been describing about the marginal position of the pastoral societies with respect to the ecology they live in, as well as their exclusion from political participation. Living under harsh environments and lack of power in decision making, in turn, contributed to the impoverishments of pastoralist societies (Horowiz & Little, 1987; Markakis, 1993; Ali, 1997; Anderson & Broch-Due, 1999 and Ayalew, 2001). Studies also show that pastoralists have been pushed into arid and marginal lands by the appropriation of their grazing lands (Horwoorz & Little, 1987; Ali, 1997; Helland, 1999; Ayalew 2001 and Getachew, 2001). The pastoral areas have received little attention with regard to improving the human capitals by introducing the necessary education and health facilities, and developing physical capital like water points at appropriate sites and the veterinary services for their stocks. Many studies also recorded how the alienations of pasturelands have accelerated the competition over resources and thereby induced inter- and intra-group resource use conflicts (Ayalew, 1997; 2001 and Tigist, 2014). Some pastoralist groups also resisted government interventions. The good instance would be the case of Karimojong in North-Eastern Uganda (Otim, 2002). Vulnerability to various natural hazards over centuries has also undermined the resource management capacity and the local knowledge of pastoralists. …

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