Livestock production is the main source of livelihood in the pastoral lands of Afar in northeastern Ethiopia. But the traditional livestock-keeping way of life there has been severely affected by climate change in recent years. Rainfall has become unpredictable, and the area has been hit by unprecedented droughts and floods. The traditional system of transhumance where pastoralists migrate annually to new grazing grounds is no longer functional and pastures continue to diminish. To try and adapt to these realities, some pastoralists have been reducing the size and changing the composition of their herds. Many have moved from keeping large cattle herds to smaller, mixed herds with more goats and camels.
The consequent shift in animal browsing patterns and the reality of droughts and floods affect the remaining rangelands negatively, and improved, climate-friendly livestock management systems are urgently needed by pastoralists.
A herd of cattle searching for water in an almost-dry…
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