Author(s): Abule E, Snyman HA, Smit GN
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Abstract Pastoralism is the most dominant land use form in the arid rangelands of Sub-Saharan Africa, but this rangeland-based lifestyle is under threat. As a consequence a study was conducted in the Middle Awash Valley of Ethiopia with the main objectives of assessing and comparing the broad perceptions of two pastoral groups (the Oromo ethnic group living in Kereyu-Fantale and the Afar ethnic group living in Awash-Fantale) on the usage of the existing rangeland resources, and their views on constraints and possible solutions. Data were collected from 90 Oromo and 55 Afar households. Despite the difference in ethnicity both of these groups share common problems. They derive their main income from the sale of animals and animal products, but with the difference that milk products rank first in the case of the Afar and last in the case of the Oromo. Both pastoral groups depend heavily on native grasses for animal feed and to a lesser extent on woody plants as a source of browse. The majority of respondents were of the opinion that the condition of the rangelands is poor, mainly due to overgrazing, droughts and increases in the human population. Availability of water is also regarded as a problem, mainly by the Oromo. Migration is the first measure taken to solve shortages of livestock feed, but many of the pastoralists replied that migration is an undesirable practise which is mostly done out of necessity. Because of the limited resources most respondents of both groups still prefer communal land tenure where resources are shared. It is concluded that the problems facing the pastoralists in the Middle Awash Valley have been created over many years and the solutions will also require time. With the current approach of the communal grazing systems, sustainable utilisation of the rangeland ecosystem is not possible. Solutions to the poor condition of the existing rangelands will require a definite commitment and full participation not only of the pastoralists, but also of government and non-governmental organisations that are directly or indirectly involved in rangeland resources utilisation, management, conservation and other related activities.
This article was published in J Environ Manage
and referenced in Forest Research: Open Access