The pastoralist dilemma
Such cold reality has left many of those long-time observers of pastoralists ready to write its obituary. 'Its days are numbered,' says Teshome Dahessa, who runs one of the Save the Children offices in Borena. 'This mode of life will be more diminished if not abandoned altogether within 50 years. That is the reality as more people get educated and inevitably look beyond pastoralism. Population growth and pressure on resources are all contributing to its decline.'
Despite the many pressures on pastoral populations, aid workers we met insist they have a right to remain as pastoralists and be supported in that way of life. This makes the role of NGOs and charities like Save the Children working in pastoral regions controversial to some. By supporting communities with aid are they helping to preserve an important livelihood that is capable of adapting and coping with climate change? Or are they merely adding a ‘sticking plaster’ to an increasingly vulnerable way of life that needs to change?