Sociocultural impacts of Prosopis on Afar pastoralists in Ethiopia
In the article “Reimagining invasions: the social and cultural impacts of Prosopis on pastoralists in southern Afar, Ethiopia”, published in Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice (2017, 7:22), Paul Rogers, Fiona Nunan and Abiy Addisu Fentie look at the sociocultural dimensions of the invasive plant species Prosopis julifloras. They present the perceptions of Afar pastoralists and agropastoralists in the Ethiopian lowlands, and explore how the sociocultural impacts of Prosopis interact with other drivers of vulnerability, including political marginalisation, sedentarisation and conflict. The benefits and costs of Prosopis were analysed using the asset-based framework of the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework and the subject-focused approach of Wellbeing in Development to capture local knowledge and perceptions. The results show that the costs of invasive species are felt across all the livelihood capital bases (financial, natural, physical, human and social). The concept of Wellbeing in Development provides a lens to examine neglected impacts, like conflict, community standing, political marginalisation and cultural impoverishment. The research highlights that impacts spread across assets and interact with other drivers of vulnerability. Pastoralists report deepened and broadened conflict, complicated relationships with the state and increased sedentarisation within areas invaded by Prosopis.