Ethiopia: Enabling pastoral communities to adapt to climate change and restoring rangeland environments


Ethiopian pastoralists constitute 14% of the total population and have among the highest rates of poverty and the lowest human development indices. Because their income is so dependent on livestock, they are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on the region,which will include increased poverty, water scarcity and food insecurity. This Joint Programme worked with 32,000 pastoralists in some of Ethiopia's most geographically isolated, vulnerable and impoverished areas to better adapt to climate variability and change.

The programme's goals were to: 

  1. Mainstream climate change mitigation and adaptation options for pastoralists into national, sub-national and district development frameworks.
  2. Enhance the capacity of government agencies and pastoralist community institutions to effectively respond to the risks and challenges of climate change.
  3. Boost pastoral communities' coping mechanisms and capacity for sustainable livelihoods. 

This was achieved through a consolidated programme which included: alternative income generation opportunities; improving rangeland management; raising awareness on adaptation options; empowering pastoral communities to better participate in decision making related to their livelihoods and integrating these options into relevant plans and policies.

The programme targeted communities in Afar, Somali, SNNPR and Oromia Regional states and involved pastoral communities, central and local government, civil society and the private sector.

Its main achievements were:

  • More than 32,000 pastoralists (of which 14,658 were women) directly benefitted from the programme.
  • At regional and woreda levels, an intersectoral approach meant that the programme combined policy, awareness raising and capacity building and training, and on-the ground activities. For example, action to improve access to water in areas suffering from droughts combined training on immediate concerns (health and sanitation) and awareness-raising to help beneficiaries better understand and prepare to face weather instability.
  • One national, four regional and six district Community Conversation (CC) strategies and action plans were drafted and published and communication strategies and public awareness toolkits were prepared.
  • An assessment was undertaken to define the capacity needs of existing pastoral communities, institutions and relevant federal, regional and local government institutions. As a result, key government and community institutions were supplied with IT equipment to manage and share information on climate change.
  • In six districts, user-friendly early warning and response mechanisms were produced and operationalized.
  • To ensure access to sustainable water sources, wells, water harvesting facilites and reservoirs were constructed and water management committees formed in selected villages. Livestock cooperatives were established to promote marketing and small business ventures involving more than 600 pastoralists. 
  • The programme trained 325 women and men on viable schemes to help them diversify their income and reduce their reliance on livestock.
  • Animal health clinics and vet health posts were rehabilitated, veterinaries trained and drugs and equipment supplied to clinics to make them functional.


Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Ethiopia.



The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 21 Oct 2009 - 31 Mar 2013
Net funded amount $4,000,000
Participating UN agencies FAO, UNDP, UNEP
National partners Ministry of Finance and Economic; Environmental protection Authority (EPA); Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development
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