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Research Report

Strengthening the resiliency of dryland forest-based livelihoods in Ethiopia and South Sudan: A review of literature on the interaction between dryland forests, livelihoods and forest governance

Steven Lawry
Rebecca McLain
Habtemariam Kassa
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 59
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Dry forests and woodlands are the dominant vegetation type in sub-Saharan Africa, covering over 17.3 million km² in a total of 31 countries (Chidumayo and Marunda 2010). Although no large, contiguous areas of tropical, dry forest are found in Africa (Miles et al. 2006), two centers of fragmented but still somewhat intact zones of tropical dry forest exist. A northern zone extends across western Ethiopia, South Sudan and into the Central African Republic, while a southern zone extends from Zambia across Zimbabwe and into Mozambique. Whether they consist of year-round marshland, small, seasonally dry ponds, or vast inland deltas such...

  2. (pp. 3-4)

    Of the many analytical frameworks used to study socio-ecological systems, livelihoods analysis has been widely used over the past two decades to provide policy-relevant information aimed at improving the resiliency of household livelihoods in rural communities (Alinovi et al. 2010; Binder et al. 2013). In a comparison of livelihood approaches used by 15 development agencies, Hussein (2002, 11) concludes that, at the core of these different approaches, is the notion that improving rural lives requires understanding and acting upon “the asset limitations of the poor, the risks they confront, and the institutional environment that either facilitates or blocks them in...

  3. (pp. 5-19)

    Ethiopia has 12.2 million ha of forest and an additional 44.6 million ha of other wooded land (FAO 2010).² Although forests cover only 11% of Ethiopia’s total land area, more than half (52%) of the country is covered with woody vegetation, including open canopy forests, wooded savannas and scrub grasslands. Table 1 lists the five major categories of dryland forest found in Ethiopia, as well as their general locations and the major disturbances affecting each category. Ethiopia’s deforestation rate between 1990 and 2010 was estimated at 0.96% (FAO 2010). Water scarcity is characteristic of the most of Ethiopia’s forests and...

  4. (pp. 20-26)

    South Sudan has a land area of 619,745 km² of which roughly one-third is forested (USAID 2007). Annual rainfall is highest in the Imatong Mountains near the country’s border with Uganda and decreases as one moves north and down in elevation. Table 2 summarizes the rainfall and vegetation types characteristic of South Sudan’s five major ecological zones. More than half the country is covered with wooded savanna. High rainfall savanna receiving an average annual rainfall of 800 to 1500 mm is located towards the south; the low rainfall savanna with an average annual rainfall of 400 to 800 mm is...

  5. (pp. 27-31)

    Five factors pose significant threats to dryland forests and livelihoods in Ethiopia and South Sudan: Climate change, violent conflict, population movement and growth, large-scale land acquisitions and weak governance institutions. In this section, we outline the key dimensions of each of these factors and briefly describe the ways in which they threaten forest conditions and livelihood resiliency in Ethiopia and South Sudan.

    Evidence from Ethiopia suggests that the amount of rainfall hasn’t fallen significantly as a result of climate change (Nyssen et al. 2009). Indeed, McSweeny et al. 2012 suggest that rainfall will increase, but will come in the form...

  6. (pp. 32-34)

    Drawing on lessons learned from recent forest livelihoods research in Ethiopia and South Sudan, we have identified a suite of research priorities for each country that show promise for contributing to policy reforms and other initiatives intended to increase resiliency and reduce vulnerabilities of small-scale forest product users and producers. Two additional research priorities – gender impacts and climate change adaptation strategies – cut across the other priority areas for both countries.

    In Ethiopia, a strong need exists for further research and policy reform in the following focal areas: smallholder and community rights to trees, in order to improve or...

  7. (pp. 35-36)

    Our synthesis of the literature on dryland forest-based livelihoods in Ethiopia and South Sudan yields a set of general observations about the major stressors, adaptive strategies and policy interventions that detract from or enhance forest-based livelihood resiliency. Major stressors of dryland forest ecosystems in Ethiopia and South Sudan include climate change, conflict, large-scale movement of people, large-scale land acquisitions and the weakening of traditional systems of forest governance. These stressors exacerbate the uncertainties associated with the region’s high level of temporal and spatial variability in rainfall and plant productivity. To manage these uncertainties, forest-dependent households use a variety of risk-spreading...