March 16, 2023 (ASSOSA, Ethiopia) The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), with support from the Swedish Government, along with Member States Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda, assemble in the cross-border town of Assosa, Benishangul-Gumuz Region, Ethiopia, to launch the Sustainable Ecosystem Management (SEM) project that will enhance rangelands management in the cross-border areas of the IGAD region.
The 3-year project comes at a critical time when the region is facing a drought that has negatively affected pastoralists’ livelihoods and influenced pastoral mobility trends locally and in trans-border areas of the region.
Speaking at the opening session on behalf of the IGAD Executive Secretary, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, the Director of IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD), Dr. Dereje Wakjira, emphasized that IGAD is committed to strengthening the resilience of cross-border communities in the IGAD region through cluster-based approach projects on climate, drought, pastoralism and food security, among many others.
“This undertaking is important because it addresses how to manage scarce natural resources sustainably to increase the resilience of communities that largely rely on rangelands,” he added.
Present at the opening session was the Advisor to the State Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Resource Development Sector, Dr. Yohannes Girma, who underscored the trade opportunities that exist in the cross-border areas.
“This project will contribute its part in unlocking the development and livelihood challenges of our cross-border communities of Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia and we believe that the communication that will be created through this project will further strengthen cross border coordination, collaboration, partnership, and in fact support a peace building effort, over use of shared natural resources, in those cross border areas,” he noted.
Representing the local government, the Head of Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State Bureau of Agriculture, Mr. Babekir Halifa, noted that the communities inhabiting the target areas are one and the same in religion, culture and other related aspects, therefore; helping them to improve the management of natural resources will go a long way to build resilience of the pastoralists living in the areas.
The SEM project will be implemented in close collaboration and partnership with relevant government ministries, other non-governmental organizations, and within communities.
The team will be guided by a Project Steering Committee (PSC) that will meet once a year to review the project implementation status and give necessary guidance to enhance efficiency.
The project implementation will focus on the communities along the cross-border areas of Ethiopia (Benishangul-Gumuz Region), Sudan (Blue Nile Region), and the Karamoja cluster of Uganda (Kaabong District), South Sudan (East Kapoeta County).
Through this project, IGAD intends to increase understanding of the status of rangelands, increase feed and fodder availability, and diversify the livelihoods of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists.
The expected project deliverables are:
- Improved rangeland health and availability of animal feed.
- Improved income for target cross-border communities through established business incubation centres.
- Regulated cross-border livestock movement and trade through the established cross-border border post.
- Defined migratory livestock routes through demarcated livestock stock routes and wildlife corridors, reducing conflict between pastoralists and farmers.
Acknowledgement: ICPALD expresses appreciation to the Government of Sweden for funding this project