Borana pastoralists adopt camels to adapt to climate change
Borana pastoralists in southern Ethiopia used to keep primarily cattle but have recently diversified into keeping camels after experiencing recurrent severe droughts. The study “Camel management as an adaptive strategy to climate change by pastoralists in southern Ethiopia” by Galma Wako et al (2017, 12pp) published in Ecological Processes 6:26 (DOI 10.1186/s13717-017-0093-5) looks into evidence of climate change and assessed trends in livestock-keeping in 156 camel-owning Borana households in Yabello District.
The pastoralists’ perceptions and the meteorological data showed an increasing trend in temperature but decreasing rainfall over the last 27 years, leading to an increasing incidence of drought with decreasing availability of grazing and water resources. Camel-keeping showed a steadily increasing trend over the same period. The camels’ potential for high milk production, their capacities to withstand harsh environmental conditions and their ability to deal with encroachment of woody species are among the reasons why Borana started to keep camels. This is a livelihood diversification option to ensure the food security of pastoralist households in the face of climate change.