New report: MIND THE GAP- Commercialization, Livelihoods and Wealth Disparity in Pastoralist Areas of Ethiopia

Here is another report from December titled “MIND THE GAP: Commercialization, Livelihoods and Wealth Disparity in Pastoralist Areas of Ethiopia Mind the Gap Pastoralists in Ethiopia

From the Summary:

The issue of pastoralist vulnerability in Ethiopia, and how best to respond to it, remains a key development challenge. Different actors have different perspectives, but in more recent development debates, pastoral destitution and poverty are often attributed to conflict, climate change and weak governance.

This report usesan alternative entry point to analyze pastoralist vulnerability, being the longstanding trend of commercialization of pastoral production and marketing systems and especially, export‐orientated commercialization. While exports are generally viewed as beneficial by government and donors in terms of promoting national economic growth, less well known are the impacts of commercialization in pastoral areas and the extent to which growing markets and trade contribute to vulnerability. The report tries to answer these questions by focusing on two pastoralist areas of Ethiopia which are described as ‘high export’ areas. First, Somali Region has a long history of livestock exports, especially live animals channeled into the crossborder trade to Somaliland and Puntland, and then onwards to the Middle East. Dating back to 1920s orbefore, this trade is both robust and growing as demand for meat increases with urbanization, population growth and affluence in the Gulf. More recently, and with government support to formal meat exports, Borana pastoralist areas have been supplying increasing numbers of livestock to export abattoirs.
But who benefits from these trends, specifically, in pastoralist areas? The answer lies partly in an understanding of wealth stratification among pastoralists, and the differing strategies used by poorer and richer households to build and maintain financial capital i.e. livestock. In general, poorer households must prioritize the building of herds if they are to acquire sufficient numbers of animals to withstand shocks and droughts. This strategy, despite its inherent economic logic, also limits the extent to which they can or should sell animals. In contrast, richer herders are the main suppliers for livestock export markets. These herders already have sufficient animals to better survive drought, and have excess animals to sell. Furthermore, as wealthier households benefit from sales they also have greater capacity to control key land and water resources which directly or indirectly, has negative impacts on poorer herders. This is most evident when hitherto communal resources are ‘privatized’. The sum outcome is an increasing asset gap and a gradual redistribution of livestock from poor to rich. This trend explains why these pastoral areas can export increasing numbers of livestock, but are also characterized by increasing levels of destitution. The report estimates annual increases in the number of wealthy pastoral households of around 2.5% (in line with average population growth), but increases in poor households of 4.1%.

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