Lack of information can impair the efficiency and competitiveness of businesses, whether those of subsistence farmers or more ambitious entrepreneurs. It can limit a community’s cultural life, leading to poverty of experience and narrowness of vision. Perhaps most significant of all, it can prevent individuals from taking control of their daily lives, their health and their well-being, as well as from exercising their rights as citizens. The importance of information has grown in recent years with the transition to knowledge- and information-based communities. This is a phenomenon that can be seen all over the world. The development of these information-based societies holds out the prospect of economic growth and social improvement but, all too often, it produces within the overall population disadvantaged groups who are excluded because they lack access to information. Societies are becoming polarized into those who have access to information-the information haves, and those who do not-the have-nots. This situation is usually compounded by a digital divide where people lack access to the technology that, increasingly, is required in order to obtain and use information.
The more individuals, communities and whole societies depend on information and the associated technologies, the greater is the social exclusion that is experienced by those who do not have access to the technology and the ability to use it. As if this were not bad enough, matters are made worse by the tendency for educated people and those with skills to leave the disadvantaged communities and move to the cities. In effect, this increases the social and technological exclusion for those who remain.
Therefore, there is a great deal to be said for any attempt to reduce the level of inequality in people’s access to information that is the establishment of community based multiservice library in disadvantaged, Borana pastoral communities that is designed to provide people with access to information. People need information to develop their potential through education and training, to succeed in business, to enrich their cultural experience, and to take control of their daily lives. Information is a key contributor to the development of individuals and communities. The first attempts to improve access to information involved establishing multiservice community library with collections of books and printed materials.
The basic aim of community library is to support the development of literacy skills and to supplement the formal education provision. Its focus is, therefore, usually on children and young people. Increasingly, however, it’s also played an important role in maintaining literacy skills among adults. The service is essentially passive: it relied on people coming to it to use the collections of information. Most, however, undertake some form of outreach and promotional activities, but these were aimed at attracting potential users to come to the collection. The building is, therefore, of considerable importance. A considerable amount of capital is invested in the initial collection of books and other materials and in the building to house the collection. Running costs also tend to be high as staffs are required to manage and, in some case, to safeguard the collection. Further, the initial value of the collection deteriorates quite quickly if new material is not acquired to refresh the stock and to replace materials that become worn out. If, however, the building is attractive, and the quality of the book stock is good, the service tends to be heavily used, particularly by children and young people, and to play an important role in the community. Further, the existence of community library often serves as a catalyst for more wide-ranging information based activities. The network of community library with national and international libraries has developed into an educational and cultural movement that incorporates literacy activities, local language publications, reading and learning.
Perhaps because of the relatively high capital costs involve, the library collections is developed by the communities themselves, by individuals pooling resources and then supplemented by external funding. In such cases, the management and control of the services remains with the community. Multi-lateral aid agencies do much to support the development of community library.
The community library serves as the community information centre that is concerned with the collection and provision of information besides the management of collections of books. Its focus is on acquiring, processing, storing and disseminating the information that is needed by the community that it serves. Some of the services emphasize the importance of collecting, analyzing, recording and storing oral information, and taking the information to the people who need it most. This reflects recognition of the importance of oral information to pass on cultural experiences to future generation in pastoral communities. Multiservice community library serves also as information desk centre for tourists and development stakeholders. The information centre that reflects the importance of information and communication technology in creating, storing, transmitting and communicating information is furnished with technologies: PCs, telephones, fax machines, photocopiers, duplicators, printers, scanners, storage devices and modems for internet connection. The library equipped with ICT facilitates to:
end up young people’s hunger for knowledge, opportunity, good jobs and the future that they seek
have endeavours that make a difference, particularly to our young people
try to match reality and actions with the aspirations and SAFEs of young people across the world
see young adults in remote villages and towns huddling around the computer watching videotaped lessons, and to expand access to information and learning materials like never before
promote affordable internet access in pastoral communities in order to have leveraged the creativity and innovation, for greater impacts on global issues
lower geographic, economic, and even gender based barriers to learning; anyone with access to the internet will be able to read, download, and print these open materials for free or adapt a copy that meets the local needs of their classrooms or education systems
bring scientific knowledge and innovation to the people of today
harness the connective power of technology to give as many people as possible access to the highest quality learning materials
create connections students with institutions or universities for free online textbooks, learning materials, licensing for everyone to use, adapt and share, and save students money in their studies.
By Merga Yonas
For Sura Arero, 98, a long-living pastoralist in the Dubuluqi village of the Dire district of the Borana Zone, relying on livestock, as his ancestors did decades and centuries ago, is now getting uncertain from day to day due to severe drought.
The ever-changing global warming became a major factor for swiftly changing the area from semi-arid to completely arid, with the double implication of hardly accessing grazing land and water.
For the past four or five years, the concern of grazing land and access to water has become an acute pain for the cattle herders, not only in Borana Zone of the Oromia region but in the Afar and Somali regions as well.
In late 2011, the greatest drought of the period decimated over 250,000 cattle in the Borana zone, though no exact figures were disclosed for the areas of Afar and Somali.
Sura, who was a victim of this drought, said that he sold out 135 cows of his own and dug a water-well to give water for the cattle in the area in order to cope with the drought. This water-well, which is about 10 meters deep, requires 10 to 15 people to create a chain and fetch the water to the surface, where cattle can drink. This being in the summer, however, in winter, as the level of the water becomes even lower and lower, the number of people needed for the chain reaches 20 to 25 people.
Two times a week or in the worst case in a couple of weeks’ time the cattle move to this place as the potential of the water could diminish if they used it more than the stated period, Borbor Bule Dire, another elder of the area told The Reporter. On a daily basis, 500 to 600 cows can drink from the well. “Later, as the situation worsens, we are forced to move within Borana with our cattle,” Borbor added.
Elders in the area said that they use traditional practices to predict the drought cycles based on the calendar in the Gada system. Traditional practices were used to predict the likelihood and the severity of droughts, allowing the Boran to plan ahead. Likewise, in the traditional way, the search for ground water in the arid lowlands of Borana is done by gada elders. Usually, the water is under Odaa (sycamore) trees, Borbor said.
Like Sura and Borbor, there are others who worry about the acute lack of water and grazing land as it is threatening their lives and that of their families’ alike. During 2011, due to the drought, many pastoralists in the area were forced to sell their cattle, where some changed it to cash and others into drought persisting cattle like camel and goat. As there is no optional mechanism in place to cope with future droughts to rescue their cows, the Borana pastoralists prefer to change them for cash or other cattle as stated above.
Galgalo Dida, 40, a pastoralist of the Dubuluqi village, told The Reporter that he had lost 10 cows due to the last drought. Of his 600 cows and 40 camels, he took 152 cows and 15 camels to the market, selling each at the price of 5000 birr and 15,000 birr respectively. Galgalo, who built houses in Dubuluqi, Yabelo, Borbasi and Dilo had planned to move his family to the town in order to run a business rather than rely on cattle for the future. As fear of future drought looms ahead, Galagalo told The Reporter that he has decided to sell even more of his cattle.
Sharing the issues, Abera Ayele, mayor of the Yabelo, a town located 577km to the south of Addis Ababa said as the water and grazing land problems have been caused by natural disasters what the pastoralists could do is change their livestock into cash or drought-resisting persisting cattle. However, to mitigate the drought, the government of the region is helping them with digging water-wells and providing them with market access as well, Abera told The Reporter.
As the traditional way of searching for water to quench thirst-stricken livestock could not guarantee the future, the pastoralists have been raising the concern of water issues on what the government Ethiopia could do. During the field trip made to the Dubulqi village, part-takers hardly mention water-well projects undertaken by government, except the one made by Sura Arero. Some observers say the least the government could have done is provide them with a pulley to avoid the chain of people drawing the water.
According to a study undertaken by CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research), although new coping strategies may enable the Borana to better adapt to new or more severe climate-related events, stress and hardship for Borana pastoralists are likely to continue, or even increase, as climate scientists project increasingly frequent and severe drought events in the Borana region of southern Ethiopia.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, attending the 14th Pastoralist Day, celebrated on January 24 in the Yabello town, asserted that the issue of water shortage for the cattle and pastoralists are a major concern of the Ethiopian government. Allocating over a two million birr budget, his administration has plans for this year to work on water issues and other infrastructures as well.
During a discussion held between the PM and representatives of pastoralists from Borana (Oromia,) Mieso (Somalia), South Omo (SNNP) and Afar, shortage of water was the issue raised by all of them and debated, besides having access to markets, education, health and border conflict. On the raised concerns, Hailemariam responded that the government is in the process of working it out in a time of two and half years.
According to a study undertaken by Care International in Ethiopia-Borana Field Offices in 2009, despite the huge socio-economic importance of livestock, the Borana livestock sector suffers from a number of constraints, which include a high prevalence of diseases and inadequate health care facilities, feed shortage, overstocking and rangeland degradation. It was suggested by the study that the combined effect of this constraint and other complex man-made problems and natural disasters limited the livestock production and productivity of Borana pastoralists.
Though the portfolios of livestock herding are various from pastoralist to pastoralist, in Borana, cattle herders are the dominant ones. The Ethiopian pastoralist groups managed some 40 percent of the national cattle herd, one quarter of the sheep, three quarters of the goats and nearly all the camels. In line with this, the Borana area covered 26 percent of the livestock population of the country and plays a more crucial role in the development of the national economy.
In Ethiopia, pastoralist areas cover sixty percent of the total landmass, accounting far more than 10 million people in seven regional states. The pastoralist areas are divided into around 42 and 122 political administrative zones and districts respectively. Currently, the pastoral areas are to be considered as potential areas, which contribute to the earnings of the national economy. The majority of these areas are engaged in extensive livestock herding, which forms the backbone of the national economy.
Source: The Reporter
Thousands of children in the pastoral regions of Ethiopia are dropping out of school despite government and donor efforts to bring schools closer to them.
Recurrent natural disasters such as drought and flooding, as well as inter-ethnic clashes, are major factors in school dropouts.
In February, at least 17,000 primary school children in Ethiopia were reported to have dropped out since the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, mainly due to drought-related migration.
In the northeastern Afar Region, some 15 schools have closed down due to a lack of water during the current dry season, affecting some 1,899 children, 29 percent of whom are girls, according to a March 11 update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Ongoing conflict between the Oromo and Somali communities is also affecting education. “In conflict-affected areas of Oromia Regional State’s East Hararghe zone, some 10,600 children (40 percent girls) from 35 primary schools in Kumbi, Gursum, Meyumuluke and Chenasken [districts have remained] without schooling for over three months,” the update said.
In the southeastern Somali Region, seasonal flooding, ethnic conflict between residents in border areas, and even internal conflicts within the Somali ethnic group often adversely affect schooling, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
In 2012, for example, a flood emergency in the region severely affected schools in several districts. “During the flooding emergency that occurred in June 2012, around 3,196 girls dropped out of school. Most of the schools located in the seven woredas were flooded, with eventual destruction of all educational materials and school infrastructure,” UNICEF said.
During the emergency, UNICEF supported the creation of temporary learning spaces for the affected children.
Children in pastoral regions often seasonally migrate with their families due to adverse weather or insecurity.
The Ethiopian government, through its Alternative Basic Education Center (ABEC) program, has been taking schools closer to such children.
“It is to include the under-developed pastoralist regions that we needed to devise an inclusive and comprehensive strategy specifically for the areas. The regions and way of life there needed a different approach. We had to take the schools to the children, not the other way around,” Mohammed Abubeker, head of the special support and inclusive education department at Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education, said.
“And now, after years of efforts, we have in the regions… formal and non-formal schools. A student would find at least one informal school in every kebele [an administrative unit under the district].”
The ABEC program has helped at least a quarter of a million rural Ethiopians living beyond the reach of the formal education system to access basic schooling, according to a statement by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
But the alternative education ends at the fourth grade, and in some areas, children must walk two hours to the formal school to continue learning, notes USAID. “Not surprisingly, some still drop out, mainly for poverty-related reasons, including the families’ need for their children’s labor or their inability to pay for room and board near the schools.”
Pastoralists’ seasonal migration also means that, “learning spaces are closed, which results in [the] closure of more Alternative Basic Education Centers,” UNICEF notes.
In response to the pastoralists’ movements, education officials are seeking ways to ensure learning continues.
“In the pastoralist regions, people there often move either by choice or [are] forced due to conflicts or drought,” Mohammed of the education ministry said. “In such situations, we use mobile schools, which are really doing well. The teachers and education materials are made to move with the pastoralist[s], so the kids will continue to learn.”
“Also, we have recently started networking the schools so when kids leave one area, we alert schools in the areas they [are migrating to] so that they can take them in,” he added.
Jointly with the UN World Food Program (WFP), the education ministry is also running a school feeding system program that is helping to attract pupils to schools.
UNICEF is also trucking water to drought-affected areas. “If kebeles are benefiting from water trucking, schools will not be closed since the communities are getting water,” UNICEF notes.
Despite the challenges, some success has been seen in educating children in pastoral regions, Mohammed said, adding that the Afar and Somali regions had gross enrollment rates of 75 and 83 percent, respectively.
“We have been doing well…but there are still many problems we need to solve. Our wish is that not a single child drops out permanently. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.”
SAFE Environmental Protection Service