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North-West University (2020)

The impact of rainfall variability on subsistence farmers in the North West Province, South Africa

Serumaga-Zake, Edward

Titre : The impact of rainfall variability on subsistence farmers in the North West Province, South Africa

Auteur : Serumaga-Zake, Edward

Université de soutenance : North-West University

Grade : Master of Science in Geography and Environmental Management 2020

Résumé
Rainfall variability has a direct influence on agriculture and food security. Subsistence farmers are reliant on their produce for survival and are considered to be particularly vulnerable to its effects. The impacts of rainfall variability will be influenced by the manner in which subsistence farmers perceive rainfall variability and adapt to it. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of rainfall variability on subsistence farmers in two settlements within the North West Province of South Africa. A mixed-methods approach was employed to achieve the research aim. A standard precipitation index (SPI) was calculated to understand the rainfall variability in the study region, while a semi-structured questionnaire was used to explore perceptions on rainfall variability, as well as its impacts on subsistence farming. Rainfall data between 1903 and 2018 was used for the SPI, while 20 farmers were interviewed. The SPI analysis showed that the region was subject to a number of dry to extremely dry periods over the last 20 years. Farmers could recall many of these periods and perceived rainfall variability to have a negative impact on crop production. Although farmers were not always able to clearly differentiate between concepts such as climate and weather, they were perceptive of changes in rainfall patterns and their effect on agriculture. Subsistence farmers were found to be heavily reliant on their farming activities for survival and, therefore, vulnerable to the effects of rainfall variability.

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