Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program


University of California at Davis

Publication Date



In 2001 PARIMA and her partners began to create collective-action groups among illiterate, settled pastoralists in southern Ethiopia. These groups—dominated by women—focused on savings-led microfinance, small business, and livestock marketing to increase incomes and diversify livelihoods. Fifty-nine groups with over 2,100 members were formed using intensive capacity- building methods. After six years we wanted to compare group members with their neighbors who never participated in the PARIMA program. We surveyed 180 individuals from groups and paired control (traditional) communities. Respondents were asked to assess the extent that they perceived positive, negative, or no change in their lives over the past three years in terms of a variety of social, economic, and ecological attributes. Considered overall, an average of 81% of the sampled group members perceived that their lives had improved in everything from income and quality of life to personal confidence and human health. In contrast, an average of only 16% of control respondents felt the same way. These preliminary results suggest that collective action can be a viable development strategy here, especially among poor, settled, or displaced people living in peri-urban areas of the rangelands. However, collective action will be most sustainable when accompanied by intensive training, technical support, an effective legal framework, and growing market opportunities.