Pastoral communities in the Borana and Shinile zones of Ethiopia have been changing and adapting their livelihoods to changing environmental conditions for centuries. Recurrent droughts have been a major issue throughout history in the Ethiopian lowlands, and strategies to cope with, and adapt to these droughts are embedded in communities’ traditional social structures and resource management systems.

Despite the sense of determination, pastoralists’ ability to adapt is constrained by many factors including increasing land degradation; conflicts over scarce resources, which limit movement and destroy assets that are key for adaptation (especially in Borana); limited access to information (including that on weather, climate change, markets, as well as pest and disease outbreaks); limited education, skills and access to financial services and markets required to diversify their livelihoods; inadequate government policies, capacities and coordination; demographic pressures; and social and gender inequalities and marginalization, which reduce the voice and adaptive capacity of the most vulnerable.

Enhancing the adaptive capacity of pastoralists will require community-based and community-led interventions, but will also require tailored support from NGOs, donors, and governments and this study explores the issues and options facing all stakeholders.

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