Traditional Rangeland Management and Utilization Practices of Nuer Pastoralists in Gambella, southwestern Ethiopia

Ketema Tilahun Gelaye


The study was conducted in Nuer pastoral area of Gambella, with the objectives of assessing the traditional rangeland management and utilization practices. The assessment was done using a structured questionnaire, group discussions and visual observations. In the study districts, the pastoral production system included sedentary (26.3%), transhumance (52.6%) and pastoralism (21.1%). For Nuer pastoralists' livestock were the mainstay of life. The purpose of keeping livestock was primarily to get social values and cultural benefits. The most accepted and widely applied traditional methods of rangeland management and utilization practices in the community were communal grazing, grassland burning and seasonal migration. The majority of the respondents (91.2%) reported that flooding escalates their mobility during the rainy season and it has been a threat in their livelihood. In the past 10 to 15 years, the grasslands coverage might be sparse according to the perception of 63% of the respondents. Based on the traditional rangeland condition assessment criteria, half of the respondents stated that the current condition of the grassland being ‘poor’. The Nuer pastoralists expressed their concern about the deterioration of their rangelands and they pointed out and prioritized the potential causes as: over grazing, recurrent drought, increased livestock and human population, erratic and low rainfall and restricted seasonal mobility. This situation has been a threat for the livelihood of the pastoral community in the districts and should be reverted through employing proper grazing systems, rehabilitation and conservation. 


deterioration, Gambella, livelihood, livestock, Nuer, rangeland


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