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 Ethiopia. These groups—soon dominated by women—focused on savings-led microfinance, small business activity, and livestock marketing to increase incomes and diversify livelihoods. Fifty-nine groups with over 2,100 members were formed using intensive training methods, and they have subsequently merged into legally recognized cooperatives. We regard this approach as successful and sustainable. We were curious, however, if “the word has spread” and collective-action has spontaneously arisen beyond our immediate project area. Preliminary findings from recent surveys of settlements in Liben District indicate that diffusion of collective-action behavior has occurred. For example, nine of 20 settlements visited in a 2006 survey had groups that formed without project assistance three years earlier; these groups had 10 to 45 members each and included men only, women only, or women and men combined. These groups occur within a 10-kilometer radius of the orginal center of PARIMA activity in Liben and group members pursue settled lifestyles. In contrast, collective-action innovations do not appear among traditional, mobile pastoralists in more remote areas. Uptake of collective-action innovations may offer many development benefits for new adopters, but sustaining the process requires vigilance and continued investment in awareness raising, training, strengthening of partnerships, and attention to peace building and natural resource management.