Addressing pastoralist conflict in Ethiopia

South Omo in Ethiopia, is a diverse zone in terms of people and natural resources. It comprises large populations of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists and a diverse landscape. The climate is erratic with frequent droughts and rivers that periodically flood and dry out completely. Economic opportunities are limited in an environment of poor infrastructure, no or few opportunities for trade and in some cases, poor terms of trade. As the livelihoods of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists depend on key resources such as land, water, forests, minerals, wildlife, livestock and pasture, the environment poses particular challenges to their survival. These resources are diminishing from year to year, intensifying competition over resources and causing violent conflict between the ethnic groups in the case study areas of the Kuraz and Hamer districts of South Omo. Communities involved in the study were able to identify many mechanisms for resolving conflict, including intermarriage, economic diversification, trade and good governance. The challenge is to identify these mechanisms and to involve a wide range of actors, including government officials at all levels (eg federal, regional, district), local communities and traditional leaders, international actors and donor agencies, in developing comprehensive strategies for conflict prevention and resolution. Recommendations for addressing these issues more effectively are provided at the end of the report. 

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2005

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