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Change and Adaptation in Socio-Ecological Systems

Climate Change, Social Changes, Technological Development

Ed. by Inostroza, Luis / Fürst, Christine

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The Roles of Customary Institutions in Adaptation and Coping to Climate Change and Variability among the Issa, Ittu and Afar Pastoralists of eastern Ethiopia

Bamlaku Tadesse
  • Corresponding author
  • Development, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Haramaya University, Dire- Dawa, Ethiopia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Fekadu Beyene
  • Corresponding author
  • Fekadu Beyene (PhD) Assoc. Professor in Resource Economics, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Department of Rural Development and Agricultural Extension, Haramaya University, Dire- Dawa, Ethiopia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Workneh Kassa
  • Corresponding author
  • Workneh Kassa (PhD, Marketing), College of Business and Economics, Department of Management, Haramaya University, Dire- Dawa, Ethiopia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Richard Wentzell
Published Online: 2015-12-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cass-2015-0025


(Agro) pastoral communities who reside in the arid and semi-arid environments of Ethiopia are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and variability specifically to the recurrent drought, floods and conflicts. From their long years of rich experiences of how to survive on such environmental pressures, (agro) pastoralists have also developed various forms of adaptation as well as coping strategies to the impacts of climate change and variability. Such strategies are closely guided and supervised by their customary institutions which have rich experiences in addressing the socio-economic/ cultural, political and environmental/ecological aspects. To mention some of the adaptation mechanisms in the study area are pastoral mobility; relying on traditional early warning mechanisms; area enclosures and preparing of hays/forage; diversifying livestock and selection of their species; the shift from pure form of pastoral to agropastoral production systems; and among others. Some of the coping strategies employed by the (agro) pastoralists are also their engagement in charcoal production and fire wood collections; the sell of their livestock, government support in the form of safety net and MERET project and their indigenous social support mechanisms; petty trading especially by women; brokering on livestock trade; engagement in contraband trade; searching for daily labor, and among others. The paper also tried to assess the roles of customary institutions in social support mechanisms to the problems posed by the impacts of climate change and variability to their age old traditional ways of livelihood mechanisms.

Keywords: Climate change; adaptation; coping; Ethiopia; (agro) pastoralists


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About the article

Received: 2015-03-31

Accepted: 2015-11-12

Published Online: 2015-12-17

Published in Print: 2015-01-01

Citation Information: Change and Adaptation in Socio-Ecological Systems, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-3669, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cass-2015-0025.

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© 2015 Bamlaku Tadesse et al.. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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