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Resilience dynamics in a rapidly changing social-ecological system: Shifting inequalities in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley

Hodbod, Jennifer; Stevenson, Edward G.; Fekadu Mulugeta, Mercy

Resilience dynamics in a rapidly changing social-ecological system: Shifting inequalities in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley Thumbnail


Authors

Jennifer Hodbod

Mercy Fekadu Mulugeta



Contributors

J. Lautze
Editor

M. McCartney
Editor

J. Gibson
Editor

Abstract

Over the past 150 years there have been four major social-ecological regimes in the Lower Omo. Each regime shift has changed the structure and function of the system. Local communities utilized diverse forms of livelihood and broad social networks to adapt to new regimes and maintain distinctive cultural identities and effective sovereignty over their territories. ‌• Regime shifts have been initiated by ‘fast’ decisions by external actors rather than ‘slow’ internal dynamics. The resulting increase in connectivity has decreased access to resources by local communities or led to the extraction of resources from the region. A declining resource base has meant such ‘fast’ decisions are more difficult for traditional livelihoods and social networks to cope with. ‌• The most recent regime shift, associated with the introduction of mega-projects such as the Gibe III dam, has led to a landscape-scale transformation. Primary functions in the system are shifting with the elimination of flood-retreat agriculture, from agro-pastoralism and the production of subsistence crops to the production of energy and commodity crops. The transformation has compromised the resilience of communities downstream of the dam, who are at the limits of their adaptive capacity. ‌• While none of the regimes the Lower Omo has experienced has been free of inequalities, the current regime is characterized by new and pernicious forms of inequality and communities are increasingly dependent on external actors as they ‘max out’ the coping strategies from diverse livelihoods and social networks that have served them historically and rely on food aid. ‌• To ameliorate community resilience and avoid a total collapse of the current social-ecological system, agro-pastoralist communities must be supported in adapting their livelihoods to cope with changing environmental conditions or migrating to other areas that can support agro-pastoralism. Neither of these options is straightforward or without risks.

Citation

Hodbod, J., Stevenson, E. G., & Fekadu Mulugeta, M. (2021). Resilience dynamics in a rapidly changing social-ecological system: Shifting inequalities in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley. In J. Lautze, M. McCartney, & J. Gibson (Eds.), The Omo-Turkana Basin: Cooperation for Sustainable Water Management. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003169338

Online Publication Date Dec 20, 2021
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Oct 6, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 20, 2023
Publisher Routledge
Edition 1st ed.
Book Title The Omo-Turkana Basin: Cooperation for Sustainable Water Management
Chapter Number 6
DOI https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003169338

Files

Accepted Book Chapter (1.1 Mb)
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Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Omo-Turkana Basin: Cooperation for Sustainable Water Management on 20 December 2021, available online: http://www.routledge.com/9781003169338







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