Livestock production covers 68.5 per cent of the economic activity in the Bale zone of Oromia region in southern Ethiopia. However, the lowlands of Bale are significantly affected by drought, which in turn affects livestock production and has caused migration in search of pasture and water. The local communities’ limited knowledge and experience about rangeland management also does not help the situation. As a result, many depended on aid or suffered from migration and its accompanying hardships including conflict and children dropping out of school.
Aman Wako, 40, a father of six children is a witness for this. His community will migrate to the neighbouring kebeles in search of pasture and water at least for 4 months a year. “We have lost our livestock several times due to drought,” says Aman standing inside the rangeland compound. Aman further explains, “Now everything has changed, I am one of the rangeland management committee members. I am happy to see such type of grass in our kebele. If we keep it like this we will no more migrate.”
Aman and his neighbours are pastoralists. Their life and livelihoods depends on two things: pasture and water. Every year they face shortage of pasture for about 3.5 to 5 months. Therefore, they either migrate to neighbouring areas looking for pasture and water or depend on aid. While traveling to different places looking for pasture and water they face several challenges including conflict, children drop out of school etc.
To address this problem, a consortium of five organizations led by Dan Church Aid used EU RESET funding to design and implement a project targeted at rehabilitating 600 hectares of rangelands in the Gura Damole district. The rangeland, which Aman Wako co-manages, is 25 hectares and a few months back, it used to be an empty land with only some bushes. Now, it is covered with grass and is brimming with vitality.
Aman never taught that his village could grow such tall and dense grass. So, with a surprise in his voice says, “I have never expected this place can grow such type of grass. The grass will be enough during the dry season so I will not migrate.”
A method called ‘cut and carry’ was introduced to avoid animals entering the rangeland compound. Beneficiaries will cut and pile the grass and feed to their cattle during dry season. “If we allow our animals to enter the rangeland compound they will destroy everything in a short period of time. Then the grass will not regenerate,” says Aman Wako.
Communities’ involvement and commitment in the management of rangeland is so important. Aman and the other rangeland management committee members work hard to change the culture and ensure sustainability. They were involved in the project implementation from the beginning and they also received training on sustainable management of rangelands, how to clear unwanted plans and construct a fence to stop animals from misusing the rangeland. They also devised a solution to prevent the rangeland from degenerating where beneficiaries cut the grass before feeding it to their animals in a different place instead of them grazing in the rangeland. “We were involved from the beginning of the work. Got training on sustainable management of rangelands, we have cleared all the unwanted plants and constructed a fence to stop animals entering the rangeland,” explains Aman.