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Doctoral thesis, 2010

Living with adversity and vulnerability

Tadesse, Menfese


The Konso people of Southern Ethiopia have been known for their traditional land management and conservation practices and mixed farming systems in which trees have played a central role. These practices helped them to sustain livelihoods over long period to survive in a less favored area. However, the Konso people have been suffering from drought and food shortage in the recent past. Despite the long standing traditional land management practices (which are still in use), we do not have sufficient information why the livelihood of Konso people has become increasingly vulnerable. This thesis uses the sustainable livelihood framework to identify potential contributors to vulnerability and also highlights the role of agency and structure perspectives in rural development. The study employed key informant interviews, focus group discussions, a formal survey and a participatory workshop. The study identified the major factors contributing to vulnerability to be food insecurity from frequent drought primarily as a result of changes in a rainfall pattern, high population pressure leading to reduction in farm size and declining soil fertility. The study also revealed that the options for non-farm and off-farm employment activities are temporary in nature, limited and low paying. Productive Safety-Net Program (PSNP) has enabled people to have better access to food, however, building assets and saving at household level was limited. Conservation and restoration of the natural resources and the building of other public assets under PSNP have showed mixed outcomes. The on-going self-employment credit program is a good start but not adequately in place. The study identified potentials and constraints to tree growing on farm lands as a way to cover immediate subsistence needs, as well as to generate income. The study concludes that policies that respond appropriately to the Konso-specific context, provide diverse livelihood options, and include the primary social actors and effective coordination and mobilization of local institutions in the decision making process as requisites to enhance the development intervention efforts being implemented to reduce vulnerability.


households; food security; poverty; sustainability; multipurpose trees; agroforestry; socioeconomic development; decision making; ethiopia

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2010, number: 2010:15
ISBN: 9789157674920
Publisher: Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    SLU Authors

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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