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Informal Institutions and Access to Grazing Resources: Practices and Challenges among Pastoralists of Eastern Ethiopia

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Beyene, Fekadu
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1200
Sector: Grazing
Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
institutional analysis
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "Rangeland resources in the pastoral and agropastoral system are facing new threats of numerous causes. The on-going scholarly and policy debate whether pastoralism, which entails communal use of grazing resources, has to be pursued as a livelihood or should somehow be altered needs to be supported with empirical evidence. Without taking either side of the debate, we rely on a case study conducted in three districts of Eastern Ethiopia to examine informal institutional practices that facilitate access to grazing resources and associated challenges. Understanding this provides a clue as to why such debate has emerged and how far existing pastoral traditions and norms enable them to successfully cope with newly emerging challenges. Data were collected from clan leaders and elders and individual households in 18 pastoral associations. Information on decision-making in grazing arrangement for internal management and reciprocity of access has been gathered. Logistic regression is used to complement descriptive information and to elicit the direction of influence of useful variables on access mechanisms. "The result shows that given the recurring drought causing massive devastation to the herd as exogenous factor, internal social relations and kinship structure still remain to be the most determining factors in influencing access to the commons. Within this, many forms of institutional arrangement providing different kinds of incentives exist. In places where there is ethnic difference, poor institutional arrangements prevail and the regional state lacks the capacity to enforce property rights. In such case, incursion through strengthening physical power has remained the most viable means of securing access. As a result, violent conflict is inevitable. This situation has undermined the possibility of trading rights to neighboring clans producing negative externality, livestock concentration in specific grazing area that damages the social and uneconomical way of raising assets for investment in conflict. In another instance where there is no ethnic heterogeneity, political change has affected clan relations. Despite these network density, age, internal social capital, and movement frequency are important variables influencing access to communal grazing falling under other clan's jurisdictions. "One pressing challenge having implications on the survival of communal grazing land is the development of incentives for establishing enclosure. The sources of such incentive are internal in relation to market development and external associated with expansion of farming from surrounding community. Although drought has severely damaged many pastoralists and agropastoralists, there has been a gradual increase in the area of land falling under private use on clan's communal grazing area indicating some signs of change in informal institutions to respond to changing situations despite the existence of various practices."

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