Date of Award:

5-1-2014

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Applied Economics

Advisor/Chair:

Dee Von Bailey

Abstract

Worldwide expenditures on international development in the form of assistance or “aid” have continued to increase as developed countries look to both help and influence developing countries. In 2011, more than $140 billion in development aid was distributed globally, more than double the amount expended for international development aid in 2003. Many of the countries that are in need of aid have governments that do not have the resources, the experience, political stability, or well-functioning institutions to effect long-term structural change to bring their people out of poverty. Ethiopia is a country receiving large amounts of development aid, and one of the poorest regions in Ethiopia is the Borana Plateau in the Oromia state. The people are semi-nomadic pastoralists who live off the livestock they raise. Climate change, as well as overgrazing and population growth, has reduced the amount of land available for pasture. Additionally, drought conditions can cause huge livestock losses due to death and the pressure to sell animals during droughts to generate money to buy food. The pastoral system is in constant danger of overstocking and suffering a system crash when drought events occur. Linear programing was used in this study to test various “scenarios” that shed light on how drastically drought and overpopulation impacts livestock numbers and overall livelihoods of the Boran pastoralists. How well livestock survive through droughts determines, in large measure, the need for food aid in the Borana Plateau and, with climate change increasing the frequency of drought events, the system struggles to rebound following droughts. These scenarios examined in this study tested the economic incentive the Boran have to clear land, and what impact clearing land has on livestock numbers, especially during drought years. The analysis also tested how keeping livestock in the system, as a result of drought mitigation strategies such as brush clearing, reduces the need for food aid during droughts and also reduces the rebound time for livestock numbers following a drought. The results determined that brush clearing provided the forage needed to keep cattle alive through a drought at various stocking levels up to and including estimated full capacity. This suggested that brush-clearing activities created an environment where people could return to pre-drought production levels without any rebound time following a drought if enough brush clearing and/or kalo development is undertaken. Kalo(s) serve as forage reserves, created from land cleared of brush and produce much more grass than from brush clearing alone and do it at a lower household cost.

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