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Diversification and Livelihood Sustainability in a Semi-Arid Environment: A Case Study from Southern Ethiopia

  • Wassie Berhanu
  • David Colman
  • Bichaka Fayissa

This paper examines the recently growing adoption of non-pastoral livelihood strategies among the Borana pastoralists in southern Ethiopia. A large portion of the current non-pastoral participation is in petty and natural resource-based activities. Pastoral and crop production functions are estimated using the Cobb-Douglas model to analyse the economic rationale behind the growing pastoralist shift to cultivation and other non-pastoral activities. The low marginal return to labour in traditional pastoralism suggests the existence of surplus labour that can gainfully be transferred to non-pastoral activities. An examination of the pastoralist activity choices reveals that the younger households with literacy and more exposure to the exchange system display a more diversified income portfolio preference. The findings underscore the importance of human capital investment and related support services for improving the pastoralist capacity to manage risk through welfare-enhancing diversified income portfolio adoption.

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Paper provided by Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance in its series Working Papers with number 200806.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:mts:wpaper:200806
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  8. Barrett, Christopher B. & Bezuneh, Mesfin & Aboud, Abdillahi, 2001. "Income diversification, poverty traps and policy shocks in Cote d'Ivoire and Kenya," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 367-384, August.
  9. Abdulai, Awudu & Regmi, Punya Prasad, 2000. "Estimating labor supply of farm households under nonseparability: empirical evidence from Nepal," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 22(3), pages 309-320, April.
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  11. Reardon, Thomas, 1997. "Using evidence of household income diversification to inform study of the rural nonfarm labor market in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 735-747, May.
  12. Barrett, C. B. & Reardon, T. & Webb, P., 2001. "Nonfarm income diversification and household livelihood strategies in rural Africa: concepts, dynamics, and policy implications," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 315-331, August.
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