Sunrise Session

Layne Coppock

Empowering African Women to Transform Drought-Ravaged Communities

Dr. Coppock’s research concerns how to enhance the well-being of people living in the world’s rangelands. He has worked in Utah, Bolivia, and eastern Africa. Dr. Coppock’s presentation will review a 12-year project in southern Ethiopia that successfully diversified livelihoods, reduced poverty, and improved drought resilience for a highly marginalized society of livestock herders. This USU-led effort has improved the lives of tens of thousands through non-formal education, microfinance, livestock marketing, and risk management. Poor, illiterate women—burdened by tedious household chores—stepped forward to become transformational leaders, unleashing a tidal wave of change. They were inspired by dynamic pastoral women’s groups from northern Kenya that had been discovered by USU and recruited to help convince the Ethiopians that change was possible. This is their story.

Take a look at a 15-minute project film by journalist Robert Caputo here.

Dr. Layne Coppock

Associate Professor
Department of Environment and Society, College of Natural Resources


Dr. Coppock received his Ph.D. from Colorado State University. He conducted his doctoral work among nomads in northwestern Kenya and was a scientist at the International Livestock Center for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Dr. Coppock joined USU in 1991 and is currently an associate professor in the Department of Environment and Society. He has served as a principal investigator for several large research projects, including the multi-million dollar Pastoral Risk Management (aka PARIMA) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development from 1997-2009. Dr. Coppock and his team have received recognition including a gold medal for meritorious service to Ethiopia. The team published a project capstone paper describing Ethiopian achievements in the prestigious journal Science in December 2011. Media coverage of this work has appeared in the USA, Europe, and Africa. More recently, Dr. Coppock has been named 2012 Researcher of the Year for the College of Natural Resources.