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Community Based Coping Mechanisms and Adaptations to Droughts in the Borana Pastoral Area of Southern Ethiopia

Submitted by Sukaina Bharwani 3rd April 2012 0:15

This paper is based on the field research conducted in the Borana area of Southern Ethiopia during April to June 2011 and addresses interactions between droughts, pastoralism, and indigenous institutions. The research looked at the role that local institutions play in helping communities manage climate variability, particularly drought, and the way external interventions interact with local institutions to build adaptive capacity. The Borana live in one of drought prone areas of the country and they combine pastoralism with farming for their subsistence. The research methodology consisted of a literature review as well as participatory field research, focus group meetings, in-depth interviews and life histories. Key findings of the research show that: (1) There are both perceived and observed climate variability in the study area (2) external interventions affect local institutions in a complex way, by strengthening some coping mechanisms and adaptations and weakening others (3) and new adaptations are taking place in pastoral areas some of them through external interventions and others through local innovations. In general, while indigenous institutions play a crucial role in climate change adaptation, more collaboration between relevant stakeholders and the local people is needed to enhance their adaptive capacity.

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