Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies

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Presentation Discussion

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    Leora Falk

    Foreign affairs officer, Department of State
    May 21, 2012 | 03:42 p.m.

    This was really fascinating! Did you look into what hurdles would have to be overcome in order to implement programs like the insurance program, or how to inform development agencies about what would or wouldn’t work? Thanks!

  • Icon for: Nathan Jensen

    Nathan Jensen

    May 22, 2012 | 09:49 p.m.

    Hello Leora,

    Thank you for your question. The IBLI product is currently available in Kenya and is opening in Ethiopia. There is also a livestock pilots in Mongolia, as well as a number index based crop insurance products around the world. Each has approached the implementation a little differently so there is beginning to be a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. I think that a few of the large hurdles to any implementation involve access to historic data for creating the contract, getting existing insurance providers online as providers of a new product and stimulating demand in populations that are often very unfamiliar with insurance. I am sure that you are looking for something a little more specific but I think that the context will pay a large role in determining those barriers. Thankfully, there are a variety of products to look towards for information on how to overcome specific issues.

    Thanks for your question.

  • Icon for: Carolyn Johnson

    Carolyn Johnson

    May 22, 2012 | 03:02 p.m.

    A very interesting project Nathan. Do you have any information on how both types of anthropogenic activities – heading and farming – have had on the local ecosystem overall? Are there pressures rising on other native species, both from human activity and from the perceived increase in drought conditions? Finally, have you found data to give you more information on climate change/variation in the area? Again, thanks for a very interesting and informative poster and video.

  • Icon for: Nathan Jensen

    Nathan Jensen

    May 22, 2012 | 09:48 p.m.

    Hi Carolyn,
    Good questions. The verdict is still out on many of them. There is evidence of increased climate variation and drying in the area. The USGS/USAID just came out with a report on the area ( http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2012/3053/FS12-3053_eth...). The pastoralist themselves report increased frequency and duration (although, as you note, human induced land degradation may cause herders to experience greater impacts even w/o changes to frequency or duration).
    Anthropogenic activities certainly are a potential issue. There is mixed evidence on whether the regional ecosystem is governed by dynamic or static dynamics, which would indicate if over-stocking is likely to lead to rangeland degradation. In either case, it seems that as you move towards the dryer Kenya boarders and into northern Kenya, droughts become a greater determinant of rangeland condition than stocking rates. On the other hand, large scale cropping is relatively new to the area so little is known about it impacts. One thing that we do know is that cropping expands into the more fertile wet areas. This, along with loss of traffic rights, may cause some friction between those that sedentize to crop and those that continue to practice a highly mobile form of pastoralism.
    On a final note, bush encroachment is a big issue in southern Ethiopia. There are many different theories on it causes and how to best address it, but the current condition is that pasture land is being lost. Bush encroachment is a very real pressure that is proceeding independent of human activity so that action of some sorts would be essential even if other forces were not in motion.
    Thanks for posting. I hope that I have been able to answer your questions.

  • May 24, 2012 | 11:14 a.m.

    Great poster and video!

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    Garth Hul

    May 27, 2012 | 02:39 a.m.

    Excellent presentation; CARE looks forward to working with you more on these critical issues in Borena.

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    Charles Hopkins

    May 28, 2012 | 08:11 a.m.

    I would like to concur with Garth that this indeed is an excellent presentation. Thanks Nathan, you presented the facts very well. Farming is indeed having an impact on the ecosystem as well as increased population growth. There is no permanent river (or irrigation) in Borana and therefore, farming is rain fed. CARE and Save the Children UK conducted a Climate-Related Vulnerability and Adaptive-Capacity study in Borana and somali region of Ethiopia. You can also find this study and video on www.careclimatechange.org/file/reports/Ethiopia. This study looked at the magnitude and rate of current climate change, combined with additional environmental, social and political issues, etc. Thanks to Nathan and his team for this great work. Thank you!

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

Icon for: Nathan Jensen


Cornell University
Years in Grad School: 1

Climate Risk Adaptation Strategies of Boran Pastoralists in Southern Ethiopia

Pastoralists on the Borana Plateau of Ethiopia must cope with extended and frequent droughts, while adapting to changes in population, land use, and climate patterns. Local perception is that droughts are increasing in severity, duration and frequency while increased cropping and town sprawl had captured much of the most fertile pastures. How are pastoralists, NGOs and government responding? Which responses are likely to be most successful and which seem likely to fail? How will the various initiatives interact? This poster summarizes the findings of a team of five social and natural scientists that undertook a rapid rural appraisal in July 2011, during one of the most severe droughts experienced by the horn of Africa in recent history. The team’s objective was to inventory local perceptions of climate trends, strategies that households were using at the time to cope with the drought, and perceptions of successful adaptation strategies. Participatory methods supplemented with interviews of government officials, aid workers and relief organizations provide a diverse set of perspectives on the issues and potentially successful responses to the changes in the social and natural landscape. As opposed to focusing on individual solutions, this research outlines potential synergies and potential pitfalls that may arise as the many players work towards their objectives. We find that there are potential opportunities for financial risk management tools, such as the Index Based Livestock Insurance program, to work with and support existing veterinary services and rangeland management.