The quest for greener pastures: evaluating the livelihoods impacts of providing vegetation condition maps to pastoralists in Eastern Africa

Authors: Elia Axinia Machado*, Lehman College, CUNY, Helene Purcell , Fordham University , Andrew M Simons, Fordham University , Stephanie Swinehart, Fordham University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Hazards and Vulnerability, Remote Sensing
Keywords: GEC, vulnerability, Pastoralism, climate change, Africa
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Stones Throw 1 - Granite, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The survival of millions of pastoral households in Eastern Africa has become increasingly at risk due to mounting socioeconomic and climatic stressors. Over the last decades, changes in land tenure systems and agricultural expansion have fractured pastoralists’ production systems and amplified their vulnerability to climate change and variability. As a result, pastoral households are faced with making migration decisions under increasing uncertainty about resources’ availability and limited coping strategies.

We assess the potential of providing vegetation condition maps to pastoralists in Ethiopia and Tanzania to support their migration decisions. The maps were generated from remotely sensed data using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as a proxy and overlain with pastoralists’ preferred grazing areas. This research integrates three rounds of household surveys with remotely sensed data to examine pastoralists’ map usage and its impacts in their livelihoods under different vegetation conditions.

The use of maps for migration decisions was low in both study areas, partly due to challenges in the map distribution (35% and 29% in Tanzania at midline and endline respectively; and 29% and 2% in Ethiopia at midline and endline respectively). Map usage did not affect animal mortality, but it was associated with improved animal condition. In Tanzania, poorer vegetation conditions at local level were associated with increased likelihood of map adoption.

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