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Livelihood adaptation to risk: Constraints and opportunities for pastoral development in Ethiopia's Afar region


  • Jonathan Davies
  • Richard Bennett


Development policies in the pastoral areas of Africa assume that pastoralists are poor. Using the Afar pastoralists of Ethiopia as the focus of research this article challenges this depiction of pastoralism by exploring pastoral livelihood goals and traditional strategies for managing risk. Investment in social institutions to minimise the risk of outright destitution, sometimes at the cost of increased poverty, and significant manipulation of local markets enable the Afar to exploit a highly uncertain and marginal environment. Improved development assistance and enhanced targeting of the truly vulnerable within pastoral societies demands an acceptance that pastoral poverty is neither uniform nor universal.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Davies & Richard Bennett, 2007. "Livelihood adaptation to risk: Constraints and opportunities for pastoral development in Ethiopia's Afar region," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(3), pages 490-511.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:43:y:2007:i:3:p:490-511
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380701204422

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    Cited by:

    1. Ruhangawebare, Godfrey Kalemera, 2010. "Factors Affecting The Level Of Commercialization Among Cattle Keepers In The Pastoral Areas Of Uganda," Research Theses 117797, Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    2. Alary, V. & Messad, S. & Aboul-Naga, A. & Osman, M.A. & Daoud, I. & Bonnet, P. & Juanes, X. & Tourrand, J.F., 2014. "Livelihood strategies and the role of livestock in the processes of adaptation to drought in the Coastal Zone of Western Desert (Egypt)," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 44-54.
    3. John Kamau Gathiaka & Moses Kinyanjui Muriithi, 2017. "An Empirical Analysis of Livelihood Strategies and Food Insecurity in Turkana County, Kenya," Research Papers RP_338, African Economic Research Consortium.
    4. Joseph K. Assan & Pushpam Kumar, 2009. "Introduction: Livelihood options for the poor in the changing environment," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(3), pages 393-402.
    5. Alary, Véronique & Hassan, Ferial & Daoud, Ibrahim & Aboul Naga, Adel & Osman, Mona A. & Bastianelli, Denis & Lescoat, Philippe & Moselhy, Naeem & Tourrand, Jean-François, 2014. "Bedouin Adaptation to the Last 15-Years of Drought (1995–2010) in the North Coastal Zone of Egypt: Continuity or Rupture?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 125-137.
    6. Headey, Derek D. & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum & You, Liangzhi, 2012. "Enhancing resilience in the Horn of Africa: An exploration into alternative investment options," ESSP working papers 48, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Kotu, Bekele Hundie, 2009. "From Pasture Land to Farm Plots, Triggers and Motivations for Land Use Changes in Afar, Ethiopia," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51276, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Sundar, B. & Virmani, Vineet, 2013. "Attitudes towards Risk of Forest Dependent Communities - Evidence from Andhra Pradesh," IIMA Working Papers WP2013-12-01, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.

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