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University of Amsterdam (2019)

The effect of water uncertainty for dependent communities : a study on adaptation and its management of agricultural communities within the fringes of Botswana’s Okavango Delta

Briars James

Titre : The effect of water uncertainty for dependent communities : a study on adaptation and its management of agricultural communities within the fringes of Botswana’s Okavango Delta

Auteur : Briars James

Université de soutenance : University of Amsterdam

Grade : Msc. Thesis – International Development Studies 2019

Résumé
The inland Okavango Delta, Botswana, is a wetland region highly dependent on flooding for its own seasonal formation, which provides irreplaceable ecological, economic and social benefits to the region. Climatic processes have begun to change the seasonality of flooding in the delta, creating heightened periods of drought as well as vast uncertainty as to when the floods will come ; issues which climate change threatens to exacerbate. Previous research has detailed how local farmers live alongside the delta’s seasonal flooding in the form of livelihood adaptations – in particular molapo (flood recession) farming, however there is minimal literature regarding the new threat facing the delta, as well as outdated official management plans detailing adaption strategies for farmers whom will be the most effected by further changes. This research project aims to understand how management-level stakeholders are formulating the current threat facing the delta’s water resources, contrasting this knowledge against the perspective of local stakeholders, particularly farmers, including how their livelihoods are affected by uncertainty, how they are adapting to limit the negative effects of uncertainty, and how their practices are influenced by management-level decisions. Thus, semi-structured in-depth interviews with stakeholders of multiple levels have been adopted, as well as observations of local practices when in the local communities of the south/south-eastern edges of the delta. This study found there to be a significant conflict between local and management-level stakeholders, with locals disregarding government adaptive strategies in favour of traditional and cultural livelihood practices. Initially, this finding seemed questionable given the ease of certain adaptations farmers could undertake which would have significant benefits to their crop productivity and livelihoods. However, upon further understanding of the context/nature of the conflict between local communities and the government, dis-trust and dis-regard for adaptive government policy can be better understood. Several factors influence this decision from farmers of the delta, including : local customs and culture, tribal identity, spiritual beliefs, long-term economic development and inequality. Thus, these findings add credence to arguments regarding the inefficiencies of adaptive management literature, in that management often fails to adequately capture human-environment relations at the local-level.

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Page publiée le 13 avril 2021