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Accepted Paper:

‘The wildlife will be protected by their owners:’ Advocacy for community conservation among the Mursi of southwest Ethiopia  
Jed Stevenson (Durham University) Will Hurd (Cool Ground) Oligidangdor Bidameri (Mursi Member)

Paper short abstract:

In discussions around conservation, people often ask, “Will the community get on board?” In Ethiopia, the Mursi have lobbied for a CCA since 2008, but until recently they faced opposition from government. We explain the promise of a CCA in Mursiland, and describe the challenges to establishing it.

Paper long abstract:

The Mursi of Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley have lobbied for a community conservation area (CCA) since 2008 – inspired by similar initiatives among the Himba in Namibia, and the Rendille, Samburu, and Maasai in Kenya. Until recently they faced opposition from the Ethiopian government, which had denied them support, and prioritized instead the establishment of sugarcane plantations. In this paper we reflect on the promise of community conservation efforts in the context of state projects that have altered the landscape of the region – including the Gibe III dam that ended the annual flood of the Omo and compromised local people's ability to support themselves through flood recession farming. Protecting wildlife offers the Mursi a way of reasserting ownership of their land and reviving the local economy. A breakthrough for them could open up opportunities to other communities in Ethiopia to assume new responsibility for -- and profit from -- the protection of wildlife. But the initiative also faces challenges, including how to monitor changes in biodiversity, and how to demonstrate success in terms that both locals and outsiders will recognize.

Panel P007b
Challenges and Opportunities for Grassroots Conservation
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 October, 2021, -