Transhumance in the Tigray highlands (Ethiopia) | Land Portal | Securing Land Rights Through Open Data

Resource information

Date of publication: 
June 2009
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 
License of the resource: 

Transhumance, the seasonal movement of herds occurring between two points and following precise routes repeated each year, is practiced on a broad scale in the open field areas of Tigray (North Ethiopia). This article presents a characterization of the practice, factors that explain its magnitude, and recent changes. Eleven villages were selected randomly, semistructured interviews were conducted, and data on the sites were collected both in the field and from secondary sources. The transhumance destination zones are characterized as better endowed with water and fodder resources, essentially due to their great extent. The sample villages can be classified into three groups: annual transhumance (average one-way traveling distance 8.1 km), home range herding (average traveling distance 2.2 km), and keeping livestock near homesteads. Movements are basically induced by the fact that there is little to no space for livestock near the villages during the crop-growing period—not by the significantly different temperature or rainfall conditions in the grazing lands. Adults will only herd the flocks when the distance for transhumance is great or considered unsafe; otherwise, young boys tend the livestock for the entire summer rainy season. Faced with social (schooling) and technological (reservoir construction and establishment of exclosures) changes, transhumance in Tigray has adjusted in a highly adaptive way, with new routes being developed and others abandoned. Transhumance does not lead to major conflicts in the study area even when livestock are brought to areas that belong to other ethnic groups (Afar, Amhara).

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
Nyssen, J. Zenebe, A. Poesen, J. Deckers, J. Haile, M. Descheemaeker, Katrien

Data provider


CGIAR is the only worldwide partnership addressing agricultural research for development, whose work contributes to the global effort to tackle poverty, hunger and major nutrition imbalances, and environmental degradation.

Share this page