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Social-ecological change in the Omo-Turkana basin: A synthesis of current developments

Hodbod, Jennifer; Stevenson, Edward G.J.; Akall, Gregory; Akuja, Thomas; Angelei, Ikal; Bedasso, Elias Alemu; Buffavand, Lucie; Derbyshire, Samuel; Eulenberger, Immo; Gownaris, Natasha; Kamski, Benedikt; Kurewa, Abdikadir; Lokuruka, Michael; Mulugeta, Mercy Fekadu; Okenwa, Doris; Rodgers, Cory; Tebbs, Emma

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Jennifer Hodbod

Gregory Akall

Thomas Akuja

Ikal Angelei

Elias Alemu Bedasso

Lucie Buffavand

Samuel Derbyshire

Immo Eulenberger

Natasha Gownaris

Benedikt Kamski

Abdikadir Kurewa

Michael Lokuruka

Mercy Fekadu Mulugeta

Doris Okenwa

Cory Rodgers

Emma Tebbs


This paper synthesizes current knowledge on the impacts of the Gibe III dam and associated large-scale commercial farming in the Omo-Turkana Basin, based on an expert elicitation coupled with a scoping review and the collective knowledge of an multidisciplinary network of researchers with active data-collection programs in the Basin. We use social-ecological systems and political ecology frameworks to assess the impacts of these interventions on hydrology and ecosystem services in the Basin, and cascading effects on livelihoods, patterns of migration, and conflict dynamics for the people of the region. A landscape-scale transformation is occurring in which commodities, rather than staple foods for local consumption, are becoming the main output of the region. Mitigation measures initiated by the Ethiopian government—notably resettlement schemes—are not adequately buffering affected communities from food insecurity following disruption to indigenous livelihood systems. Therefore, while benefits are accruing to labor migrants, the costs of development are currently borne primarily by the agro–pastoralist indigenous people of the region. We consider measures that might maximize benefits from the changes underway and mitigate their negative outcomes, such as controlled floods, irrigating fodder crops, food aid, and benefit sharing.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 12, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 8, 2019
Publication Date Oct 31, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 17, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 22, 2019
Journal AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
Print ISSN 0044-7447
Electronic ISSN 1654-7209
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 10
Pages 1099-1115
Public URL


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Copyright Statement
Advance online version © The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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