Inkermann, Helena: Diversification of livelihood strategies and the transformation of pastoralist life among Afar women in Baadu - Ethiopia. Bonn: Department of Geography, University of Bonn, 2015. In: Development Geography Occasional Paper, 04.
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author = {{Helena Inkermann}},
title = {Diversification of livelihood strategies and the transformation of pastoralist life among Afar women in Baadu - Ethiopia},
publisher = {Department of Geography, University of Bonn},
year = 2015,
month = apr,

series = {Development Geography Occasional Paper},
volume = 04,
note = {The Afar society is undergoing a rapid socio-economic and environmental transformation process that is influencing the dominant livelihood in the region: pastoralism. A case study in Baadu, in the Afar Regional State in Ethiopia, was conducted to study the transformation process, its impacts on Afar women living in Baadu, and the options and constraints of social practices of Afar women deriving from the transformation process. A focus was led on livelihood pathways as an individual response to the transformation.
The transformation process of the Afar society in Baadu needs to be seen within the wider perspective of external and internal factors that have led to the transformation. While a bloody conflict with the neighboring Issa-Somali pastoralists, together with the spread of the invasive plant Prosopis juliflora causes an intensive loss of grazing land, the pastoral society of the Afar is also transformed due to internal clan changes. The concept of political ecology allows understanding and explains the transformation process in its greater dimension. The divergent interests on the local, regional and especially national level are intensifying the transformation process. The Ethiopian government is promoting sedentarization of the Afars, claiming that the pastoral life is backward and unworthy of living.
The transformation process adds new work tasks to the already high work burden of Afar women as they are traditionally in charge of the well-being of the household. Afar women follow new livelihood strategies as a response to the transformation process which is threatening their livelihood basis. Afar women have begun to engage in economic activities to access financial capital and ameliorate the overall situation of the household. While the new income earning activities increase the work burden of women, it also opens up new options for agency when the power relations between Afar men and women change and women enter into new social fields. The engagement in economic activities is correlated to new livelihood pathways. Generally, an empowerment of Afar women was identified. This empowerment is promoted by local institutions such as the women’s affairs office and NGO’s who teach women about their rights. Together with their newly gained (financial) independence, women are more often determining their own destinies and taking active roles in decision-making processes. For example, Afar women refuse to marry their absuma when necessary and desire to decide for themselves their future and their marriage.
The engagement in economic activities is closely linked to a process of sedentarization where markets and basic infrastructure can be accessed. Settled households have access to institutions like the women’s affairs office that support women in their rights. The afore described changes cannot be transferred to Afar women who live in remote areas far away from urban centers, who do not face the possibility to become (economically) independent from their husband through the II engagement in income-earning activities, and who do not have the support of institutions.},

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