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No Time to Recover
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No Time to Recover

Pastoralist communities in Ethiopia are being hit hard by global climate change, a problem these nomadic people did nothing to create. By working with the local government and NGOs, they are finding ways to adapt and solve the challenges they face.

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Produced by Save the Children UK/CARE International.

Visit CARE's website (PDF download) for more information on the effect of climate change on Ethiopia's Barana and Somali communities.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
Pastoralism in Ethiopia is more than a nomadic livelihood based on the wellbeing of one's livestock. Pastoralist communities have shared a rich cultural history, a traditional support network, a unique economic system, and a collective social identity supported by kinship and clan loyalty. For centuries, pastoralist communities have moved through the Ethiopian lowlands effectively managing the potentially devastating impacts of severe drought, heavy rains, and floods. They have done so through a range of time-tested, culturally embedded strategies and techniques. But their climate is changing. Temperatures are increasing. Droughts and floods are becoming even more severe than in the past, and they are occurring more frequently. These changes are wearing down the well-known resilience of proud pastoralist communities. The future is uncertain and, for many pastoralist communities in Ethiopia, it appears increasingly threatening. Climate change represents a clear and omnipresent danger to their valued traditions, identity, and very survival, though they have contributed nearly nothing to its causes.
TITLE
No Time to Recover. The challenge for Borana and Somali pastoralist communities of Ethiopia to adapt to climate change
TITLE
Pastoralist communities are facing unprecedented economic, social, and environmental changes
GULED MOHAMMED ALI [Head of the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Bureau, Somali Region]
The frequency and severity of droughts has increased from year to year since 2000. Previously the interval between severe droughts was about 10 years. But now it seems like it is at least every other year. For example, in 2002, 2005, 2007, and 2008, there were no good rains.
OMAR JIBRIL [Kalabaydh Village, Shinile Zone]
We used to have drought one year, but the next year would have heavy rain. This allowed us to recover from the drought. But now the rains are decreasing year after year.
ZAHRA ROBLE [Kalabaydh Village, Shinile Zone]
We used to depend on our animals and were struggling. We'd go to one place and find drought. We'd go to another and find drought.
DESSALEGNE MESFIN [Deputy Director General, Environmental Protection Authority, Ethiopia]
Climate change creates huge obstacles for social and economic development efforts. It also seriously impacts the environment.
VOICEOVER
Pastoralist communities are being hit hard by the negative impacts of climate change. In many cases, climate change impacts are compounding the effects of other changes and stresses to pastoralists' livelihoods including the privatization of previously communal lands, population pressure, and violent conflicts. The cumulative result is that pastoralists' capacity to adapt to a changing climate is undermined.
BORBOR BULE [traditional historian, Debluk, Sora Arero Village, Borana Zone]
The major problem that we have is the shortage of good pasture, and shortage of water. This problem arises due to the climate change, high population pressure, and privatization of communal grazing land. We didn't receive the rain we expected this season in some areas of Borana. But we received better rains than Northern Kenya in Moyale and other Borana areas. So people from Waso, Kenya, migrated and settled there. As a result of this migration, large herds of cattle are competing for the available grasses.
DIDA HAPHICHA DEBASA [Teltelle District, Dida Haphicha Village, Borana Zone]
Because of the recent tribal conflict over resources, whatever was at our disposal was destroyed, including all our assets. This year we do not have tribal conflict, but the crops failed due to the shortage of rain. And now you can see the barren land here.
TITLE
Some social groups are more vulnerable to climate change than others
VOICEOVER
Though the impacts of climate change are broadly felt in pastoralist communities, they affect some social groups more than others. Women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities are especially vulnerable, and are often the vast majority of people needing assistance in times of drought.
ELEMA HUKA [Teltelle District, Dida Haphicha Village, Borana Zone]
There is nothing positive about drought. Drought has only negative consequences. And women are more vulnerable than men because we cannot trek long distances in search of water and work.
DIDA HAPHICHA DEBASA
So we are forced to sit idle and, in fact, we don't have anywhere else to go.
VOICEOVER
Children are especially vulnerable as a group. Although parents and many children believe that education is the key to becoming more resilient, climate change is creating additional obstacles.
WONDIMU KOTE [age 13, Teltelle District, Dida Haphicha Village, Borana Zone]
Right now we don't have enough food grain to eat or sell. So we cannot buy stationery materials like pens, pencils, and textbooks. This year I have had to drop out of school because of the change in the weather. Next year I am planning to join school again if the situation gets better.
VOICEOVER
Quresha Farah says she goes to school to improve her life and the life of her parents. She hopes to be a doctor to help her village and district.
QURESHA FARAH [age 16, Kalabaydh Village, Shinile Zone]
The effect of this climate change is that it has caused our parents to migrate to different places. When our family migrates to somewhere else, we students go to live at another house to continue our education. And it affects us. I feel very sad when I am alone without my parents, when they have migrated. When there is rain, the small children are the ones who take care of the sheep and goats. Now, since the sheep and goats need to go very far for water, we are the ones who are responsible to take them. When I return back from keeping the sheep and goats, I am tired and go to bed without having studied. I can be a doctor only if I complete my secondary school.
TITLE
Traditional ways of dealing with tough times are not enough
VOICEOVER
When conditions were hard for pastoralists in the past, they turned to their strong tradition of mutual support for relief. For example, the traditional practices of eramissi and busa gonofa serve to redistribute livestock to those in need. But there has been a fundamental change. The magnitude and scope of stresses experienced by pastoralists is impoverishing nearly everyone. As a result, traditional forms of relief through mutual assistance are no longer viable on their own.
BORBOR BULE
The traditional social network system is very much weakened. Borana has 17 clans and each has a way of helping each other that is based on a kinship platform. In the past, four to five households a year would make a case for getting assistance. But recently, up to 500 people or more are asking for assistance!
ELEMA HUKA
Now we have nothing to give to our fellow women. It is not because we are mean. It is the problem we are facing in this area now.
OMAR JIBRIL
If you have something better than your neighbor on one night, you will not keep it to yourself. Our previous culture was to share our wealth (livestock) with poor people. Now it is not working since everyone is facing poverty.

Segment 2

TITLE
Pastoralists are seeking solutions to their problems.
VOICEOVER
Pastoralists are pursuing a wide range of activities to help them adapt to worsening patterns of extreme weather and erratic rainfall. For example, they are diversifying their livestock to keep more drought-resistant animals like camels or goats, digging deeper traditional wells and boreholes, using donkeys to transport water long distances, setting aside reserve pasture for times of severe drought, and engaging in alternative livelihoods such as hay making, petty trade, masonry work, firewood or charcoal selling, and farming. The government of Ethiopia, together with development partners and non-government organizations, are supporting many of these activities because they can help pastoralists maintain their well-being despite mounting pressures. However, some activities -- especially firewood and charcoal production -- are unsustainable and ultimately undermine prospects for long-term development in the country. Therefore, better alternatives are being activity promoted.
DESSALEGNE MESFIN
Currently we are working on generating energy using natural resources like the sun, especially in Somali, Afar, and Borana Zones.
BORBOR BULE
People have learned the hard way to cope with drought. They have stopped relying on cattle as a single way to make a living. In the past, they often only relied on milk production. Now they have started doing other things. For example, in the past, a pastoralist who lost 500 head of cattle would be left destitute. Now, a pastoralist who has 200 cattle and diversified his livelihood has also learned how to save money.
DALU WAKO [Dirree District, Adi Buile Village, Borana Zone]
I used to herd livestock but all the livestock died because of the drought. As a result I migrated to Burjuji. I now make a living by doing masonry works. I am a mason assistant. I also build houses and even plaster them with mud. And I break stones into pieces and also load stones onto trucks. By doing this I get some money.
OMAR JIBRIL
I used to live in this surrounding area. But as the weather has changed, some pastoralists are becoming agro-pastoralists. That's why we settled here (by the road). Because of the shortage of water, we are only able to grow a little sorghum. This year, it wasn't growing at the beginning. But now we have re-cultivated and there is a little growing.
ZAHRA ROBLE
We used to have a lot of livestock. And the sheep and goats were 300 in number. There were 20 cattle and 5 camels. We have four camels now, but we lost all the cattle, sheep, and goats. Since there was not any pasture due to the drought, they died of hunger and were affected by many diseases. The exception was the camel, which has drought resistance capacity and is sustained by grazing the trees called garas. Myself, the elders, and my children faced many problems taking water to the animals. Eventually we lost most of our animals because of the drought and decided to stay here. We became agro-pastoralists. If we harvest from our farm, then we may recover from the drought.
VOICEOVER
To overcome the recent problems of drought, Dama Boru is working with other women through collective action to try and continue the tradition of mutual support during hard times. She is the chairwoman of a savings and credit cooperative in Madhacho.
DAMA BORU [Madhacho, Boneya Jarso Village, Borana Zone]
We do this by sharing ideas, labor, and resources among ourselves. Then we can save some money. Whenever a member is in trouble, whether in poor health or something else, we will help them as a cooperative. I am an example to my fellow women: my husband died when I was young. And all our cattle were destroyed because of the drought. I then migrated to this area and borrowed some money from people and started trading. I returned the principal and live off of the profit from my shop.
TITLE
Solutions for pastoralist communities are possible
VOICEOVER
Building a better, more resilient future for pastoralist families in Borana and Shinile Zones has to begin by strengthening local livelihoods, especially those of the most vulnerable households. Working together, the government of Ethiopia, development partners, and NGOs can build on the indigenous ideas and strategies of pastoralist communities as they face the challenges of a changing climate. They not only have a strong willingness to get out of poverty, but to take their future into their own hands.
TITLE
[end credits]