Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture

Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture No. 2/08

Livelihood transformation from pastoralism to agro-pastoralism as an adaptation strategy among the Urrane of north-eastern Ethiopia

Degefa Tolossa
Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia


The paper discusses the driving forces and processes of livelihood transformation among the Oromo pastoralists (Urrane) of the Awash River Basin in the Oromiya Zone of north-eastern Ethiopia. The ‘livelihood’ framework and the discourses on diversification underpin the argument of the study, which is based on extensive fieldwork carried out in 2002 and 2003, employing a qualitative research approach. It has been found that part of the Oromo pastoralists have shifted to an agro-pastoral livelihood system, a transformation that can be explained through the interaction of a number of biophysical crises (drought and stock feed shortages), political-economic variables (such as poverty and an inappropriate property rights regime), and demographic pressures (rapid population growth). This diversification has been due to both ‘pull’ factors and ‘push’ factors. It is concluded that agro-pastoralism is the adaptive livelihood strategy chosen by the Urrane against impoverishment due to declining livestock resources.

Keywords: adaptation, agro-pastoralism, Borkena, diversification, livelihood

JEL: O13, O15, O17; P28, Z13

Vol. 47 (2008), No. 2: 145-165