The Sedentarization of Oromia Pastoralists: A Matter of Policy or Necessity?
Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in Oromia occupy a large proportion of landmass although they lead unstable life in arid and semi-arid areas. A gradual conversion of pastoral households into agro-pastoralism is evident in many parts of the region where such conversion induces shifts in livestock production strategies and land use. Crop cultivation has relatively increased over the last few decades where some proponents of pastoralism labelled such a move as invasion of farming to the dry land areas characterized by fragile ecology and unstable rainfall conditions. While such changes seem to be evolutionary, some claims underline that state development policies and political interventions in extending formal systems of governance are behind them. This study was undertaken to identify socioeconomic and environmental factors related to pastoralists‟ preference for sedentarization employing both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The research tools used in the study were questionnaire, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and non-participatory observations. The major finding of the study is that pastoralists ongoing shift to sedentary way of life has been triggered by the dynamic changes that have been occurring in pastoral areas over years and has less to do with the state development policies and political interventions. The implication of this is that all concerned stakeholders ought to support and facilitate this evolutionary shift in all aspects in a manner that it benefits the subjects without disturbing the ecosystem.
Keywords: Agro-pastoralism; Pastoral Livelihoods; Pastoral Sedentarization; Pastoralism