Human Ecology

, 36:503 | Cite as

Towards Endogenous Livestock Development: Borana Pastoralists’ Responses to Environmental and Institutional Changes

  • Sabine HomannEmail author
  • Barbara Rischkowsky
  • Jörg Steinbach
  • Michael Kirk
  • Evelyn Mathias


Borana pastoralists in southern Ethiopia are faced with the challenge of developing more efficient and sustainable use of natural resources. In past decades poorly adapted development interventions and inadequate land-use policies aggravated by population growth have weakened pastoral rangeland management. Ignoring pastoralists’ technical and organizational capacities has contributed to progressive land degradation, the erosion of social structures and poverty. The Endogenous Livestock Development concept recognises pastoralists’ indigenous knowledge-based strategies and priorities, and uses them as the bases for further development of their production system and social relations, to be utilized, improved and combined with modern technologies. This paper explores the Borana pastoralists’ adaptive strategies for improved utilization of natural resources and the manner in which they respond to environmental risk and external influences such as water development and new formal administration. The adaptive responses include controlled integration of crop production and protection of grazing reserves, as well as changing cattle breeding priorities and the adoption of camel husbandry. The pastoralists have started negotiations with the administration to regain control of land utilization by strengthening directives for settlements, land use pattern and extraction rates. To support these initiatives the study recommends that pastoralists and other stakeholders enter into an institutionalized process of negotiation that builds on indigenous knowledge and organizational structures and facilitates validation and implementation of newly generated knowledge.


Indigenous knowledge Pastoralists Natural resource management Institutional development Ethiopia 



We are grateful to the Tropical Ecological Research Programme/Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (TOEB/GTZ) and the Borana Lowlands Pastoral Development Programme (BLPDP/GTZ) for providing financial and logistical support. We are deeply indebted to the Borana pastoralist communities for their warm hospitality and willingness to share their knowledge. Many thanks are to Swathi Sridharan for editing the English. The comments and suggestions of two anonymous reviewers to an earlier draft of this paper are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Homann
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Barbara Rischkowsky
    • 1
  • Jörg Steinbach
    • 1
  • Michael Kirk
    • 2
  • Evelyn Mathias
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Livestock EcologyJustus-Liebig-University GiessenGiessenGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Cooperation in Developing CountriesPhilipps-University MarburgMarburgGermany
  3. 3.League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock DevelopmentKürtenGermany
  4. 4.International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT)BulawayoZimbabwe

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