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Access to natural resources and conflicts between farmers and agro-pastoralists in Borkena Wetland, north-eastern Ethiopia

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Abstract:

This case study on the Borkena wetlands in north-eastern Ethiopia tells, through the voices of the inhabitants, the story of the occupation and management of an area where agro-pastoralists (Urrane) and farmers have progressively settled. It shows how different policy changes and natural disasters have transformed the type of peoples' livelihoods and land use patterns in the wetland. It tells the history of relationships between smallholder peasants, irrigation farmers, commercial farms, and the Urrane, where conflicts as well as collaboration developed, and it shows how different stakeholders behave and consider their own situation. The study also reveals that development intervention by World Vision Ethiopia (WVE) had mixed impact on peoples' livelihoods in the wetland: sedentary peasants have benefited while the Urrane have been adversely affected. The main issue is the marginalization of pastoralists, with the denial of their traditional land use rights by three successive regimes and administrations. Any solution to the cohabitation of the different groups and livelihoods will have to address the issue of land rights for the pastoralists and promote the fair participation of all stakeholders in the future management of the wetlands. Good governance and the competence of the state actors at local levels are the crucial issues for the realization of the suggested solutions.

Keywords: Urrane; conflict; livelihood; peasant; resource

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00291950410002304

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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