A livelihood-based drought response in southern Ethiopia
The 2006 drought in the Greater Horn of Africa affected 11 million people, including many pastoralists. Drought responses focused primarily on food aid, with inadequate attention given to livelihood protection and support.
Under the USAID-funded Pastoral Livelihoods Initiative, Save the Children US piloted several livestock-focused drought responses in pastoral areas of Ethiopia, with two aims:
- To protect core breeding livestock through emergency animal healthcare, supplementary feeding and the redistribution of livestock among families after rains began.
- To remove other livestock from the rangelands, which would otherwise have died due to drought, through commercial destocking.
Working closely with the Department of Fisheries and Livestock Marketing (MoARD), Save the Children US organised livestock trader meetings in Addis Ababa and supported 21 livestock traders to travel to Ethiopia's drought affected southern rangelands. Two traders subsequently established cattle buying centres around Moyale District in southern Ethiopia, and in early 2006 purchased 20,000 cattle for US$ 1.01 million. The cattle were transported to fattening units around Addis Ababa, the majority then exported to Egypt. This had several benefits:
- Over 5,400 households benefited, selling on average 3.7 cattle and earning 1,620 Ethiopian Birr in total (US$ 186).
- A Participatory Impact Assessment showed that this money was mostly spent on protecting the core livestock herd and buying food for families.
- Of all the money earned, 79 percent was spent locally on livestock support, food, clothing, paying off debts and supporting relatives.
Key lessons learned
While this intervention had a major impact on pastoralists around Moyale, it was not possible to engage traders in other drought affected areas. This was partly due to poor quality roads and high transport costs. To achieve a wider impact, the road network must be improved.
At the time of destocking, cattle were sold to Egypt. However, Egyptian and Middle East markets were later closed temporarily to importing live animals from Ethiopia, because of livestock disease outbreaks in the Greater Horn of Africa. For livestock traders to continue commercial destocking during droughts, structural weaknesses in Ethiopia's livestock marketing industry must be addressed, particularly veterinary and phytosanitary standards.
Save the Children US, PO Box 387, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia