Are livestock coops in Borana disadvantaging the poor?
For Trócaire CAFOD SCIAF, Gerrit Holtland studied savings-and-credit and agricultural cooperatives in in Borana Zone of southern Ethiopia. Governmental organisations, projects and NGOs have created hundreds of cooperatives in Borana, meant to improve the income of poorer segments of Boran communities. Over half the coops are for savings and credit (SACCOs); most of the rest are agricultural cooperatives that market livestock or incense. The study Cooperatives, SACCOs and traders in Borana, Ethiopia (1957)looked into how these coops function and what impact they have on incomes, and analysed the role of traders in livestock and incense. He found that coops in more isolated areas make hardly any profit. The members’ low literacy rates and lack of business experience and administrative skills easily lead to conflict. The coops are dominated by traders and better-off pastoralists, who use the coop to claim exclusive use rights in what used to be communal grazing areas, thus disadvantaging the poor. SACCOs can provide cash to poorer pastoralists so that they need not sell off their animals in the dry season. Several recommendations are made for better using the potential of SACCOs to improve the situation of the poor, and reconsidering support to agricultural coops. It is strongly recommended that NGOs hire staff with more business skills, if they want to be effective in supporting cooperatives.