USU Researchers Lauded for Efforts in East African Rangelands
Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008
Research associates Getachew Gebru, left, and Solomon Desta in USU's Department of Environment and Society were recently honored by the Ethiopian Society for Animal Production at the group’s annual meeting in Addis Ababa. Photos by Seyoum Tezera.
This Somali-Gura woman is chairperson for a recently created cooperative women's association in southern Ethiopia. The association exports sheep and goats to the Gulf states and has also diversified into other small businesses.
Utah State University research associates Getachew Gebru and Solomon Desta received gold medals for outstanding achievement at the fall 2007 annual meeting of the Ethiopian Society for Animal Production. The gathering was held in the capital city of Addis Ababa.
Gebru and Desta, both Ethiopian nationals, are members of the USU-led Pastoral Risk Management Project – known as PARIMA. The collaborative program operates in the border region of southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya to foster economic sustainability among pastoralists.
Gebru, who holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, was recognized for his professional contributions to the founding and growth of ESAP, a leading professional society in the nation, which focuses on agricultural and natural resources research, rural development and policy.
Desta, who earned a doctorate from USU’s College of Natural Resources, received his award in recognition of the achievements of the entire PARIMA project team.
Initiated in 1997 and funded by the Global Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development, PARIMA is directed by USU researcher Layne Coppock, associate professor in the Department of Environment and Society in the College of Natural Resources. PARIMA is a consortium of university collaborators from the United States and Kenya, as well as an extensive network of partnerships with East African public and private entities.
Key USU collaborators for PARIMA also include DeeVon Bailey, interim department head and professor in the Department of Economics, and Claudia Radel, assistant professor in the Department of Environment and Society.
Among PARIMA’s research efforts is helping rural households in the rangelands. These households depend primarily on herding livestock for sustenance, and PARIMA works with them to diversify their livelihoods to achieve greater economic stability and improve their ability to endure drought. One of the project’s most successful programs, which started in 2001, has been the creation of numerous sustainable collective action groups, dominated by women, in southern Ethiopia.
“The PARIMA project has achieved recognition in east Africa by virtue of using innovative participatory research and outreach approaches to promote collective action among thousands of pastoral women,” Coppock says. “The initiative has subsequently spread to other parts of the country.”
The groups have enable women to increase their incomes and savings by setting up viable small businesses and expanding livestock trading, he says. These efforts have improved families’ living conditions and motivated them to send their children to school.
The program’s success has resulted from careful training and mentoring of participants over the past six years, Coppock says. “PARIMA researchers are documenting the impacts of such investments in human capital and compiling and sharing stories of how positive change can occur in a difficult environment.”