Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title

Research Brief

Publication Date

6-2014

Publisher

Colorado State University

Volume

RB-16-2014

Abstract

The Borana Plateau is an important rangeland for Ethiopia. Livestock production has supported pastoralists here for many generations, and animals are now supplied to a variety of domestic and export markets. The aim of this Livestock Innovation Lab project is to find ways to improve the sustainable productivity of the pastoral system. This is a big challenge, as the rangelands have been badly degraded by decades of heavy pressure from growing human and livestock populations. As a result, there has been extensive bush encroachment on the grasslands and a recent acceleration of gully erosion. The research team used Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), a method that allows scientists to gather information on pastoral knowledge and opinions, to reveal the priority problems of four Pastoral Associations (PAs) located within 90 kilometers of the town of Yabelo. The most critical problem for all of the PAs is a shortage of drinking water for both people and animals. Water resources are under threat from growing populations, high rates of pond siltation from overgrazed catchments, and gradual deterioration of cisterns, hand pumps and infrastructure for deep wells. Other problems include a lack of feed resources for livestock and inadequate public services for people. Because of the very high value placed by the people on water, the project’s next phase of work is focused on taking action where water and forage resources intersect, namely the protection of selected pond catchments with bush fencing. Bush fencing will also line pathways that will allow controlled access of livestock to the pond’s edge with minimal effects on the environment. Researchers expect that grass recovery in the catchments will be rapid, therefore greatly reducing pond siltation as well as enhancing water quantity and quality. This is the first step in a comprehensive, long-term process to rehabilitate the rangelands in support of more sustainable livestock production.