Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Charles W. Gay


Charles W. Gay


James Dobrowolski


William F. Farnsworth


The Somali pastoral nomads live in an environmental condition of risk and uncertainty. The scarce and unreliable rainfall is the primary element ·which determines the existence of nomadic pastoralism. The lands devoted to pastoralism in Somalia are those arid and semi-arid areas that could not sustain cropping, so that pastoralism may be considered the only rational utilization of the land resource. Nomads live in an environment where the survival of both animals and plants are constrained by many factors such as droughts. Yet, both nomads and their animals have evolved by learning numerous adaptive strategies to cope with their harsh, unpredictable environment. Mobility is the primary means by which Somali pastoralists compensate for the sparse and unpredictable resources which characterize the arid environment. It is a strategy of risk aversion, crisis survival, and a way of exploiting a rangeland poorly endowed with moisture. The use of different species of livestock common to arid environments by nomadic pastoralist is based on pragmatic considerations. The practice has both ecological and economic implications. Different species utilize different ecological niches more efficiently than single species. Resistance to drought also differs, as does reproductive rate and maturation rate. Therefore, by keeping a mixture of small and large stock, Somali pastoralists are able to exploit an environment which could not be as productive otherwise, and each specie provides a valuable resource. Camels, for example, are kept mainly for milk and transportation, sheep and goats as a source of meat, and cash income. Various rangeland development projects and programs were undertaken as part of an effort to improve the range resource and to alleviate constraints in livestock production. development projects have been implemented. Four successive range These include the present on-going Central Rangeland Development Project in addition to three other projects in the northern part of the country. Lack of baseline data and inadequate numbers of qualified people were the principal problems encountered. The formation of an agency responsible for all range activities in the country was one of the major achievements. Various interventions have resulted in unanticipated long-term environmental degradation and have had a detrimental impact on the fragile pastoral ecosystem. The development of stock water points as well as veterinary services have caused more harm than help. Above all, Nomadic pastoralism makes use of an environment which is difficult to manipulate in light of present technology and social institution. It is recommended that any development program plan should consider basic factors contributing to the nomadic land use. Also, research is needed to mitigate the impact of dynamic environment. The underlying problems are mainly due to increasing human population and refusal of policy makers to understand the complexity of pastoral ecosystems.