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Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (2018)

Integrated Assessment of Drought Hazard and Social Vulnerability in the Cuvelai-Basin of Angola and Namibia

Lütkemeier, Robert

Titre : Integrated Assessment of Drought Hazard and Social Vulnerability in the Cuvelai-Basin of Angola and Namibia

Auteur : Lütkemeier, Robert

Université de soutenance : Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

Grade : Doktorgrades (Dr. rer. nat.) 2018

Résumé partiel
Droughts are phenomena that occur worldwide, in humid and arid environments as well as in the Global North and the Global South. They are considered as slow onset hazards that affect more people than any other natural process with an estimated economic damage of USD 135 Billion and 12 Million casualties globally between 1900 and 2013 (Masih et al., 2014, p. 3636). Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a major drought hot-spot due to vulnerable livelihoods (e.g. dominance of rain-fed agriculture), limited capacities (e.g. financial, institutional), weak infrastructure (e.g. water, mobility) and political instability (e.g. conflicts, corruption). When droughts occur, as recently triggered by El Niño (2015/2016), vulnerability conditions of the affected societies determine, if drought risk manifests as a disaster. As a critical, recent example, the drought in Somalia resulted in a serious humanitarian disaster primarily as the precarious vulnerability situation was further deteriorated by political and violent conflicts (Maxwell et al., 2016). Overall, SSA faces severe challenges to manage drought risk, primarily due to two reasons : First, despite progress, the living conditions remain difficult with prevailing poverty, limited health services and ongoing political unrest in many regions (UNECA et al., 2015). This is alarming, especially against the projected population growth of about 1.3 Billion people in Africa until 2050 (UN-DESA, 2015, p. 3). Second, achieving good living conditions for all, as envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), is a challenge, as climate projections indicate a likely increase of drought frequency and severity in SSA. Higher rainfall variability paired with a strong increase in average temperatures (Niang et al., 2014) will render today’s exceptional droughts as the new normal in the near future. These urgent problems require sustainable solutions to improve short- and long-term adaptation. Transdisciplinary science that conflates the strengths of academic disciplines and stakeholders from politics and society is needed to develop risk reduction strategies. Under the umbrella of the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL), this thesis makes a contribution to integrated drought risk management schemes by assessing the drought hazard conditions and the societal vulnerability settings in a case study region : the Cuvelai-Basin. This transnational region across Namibia and Angola regularly experiences droughts as recently during 2012 – 2015 with hundreds of thousands of people being water and food insecure (DDRM, 2013 ; UN-OCHA, 2012). Environmentally, it covers a gradient from humid in the north to semi-arid conditions in the south with associated vegetation patterns. The population practices subsistence agriculture and livestock herding with tendencies of urbanization and lifestyle changes. The societal pre-conditions in both countries are heterogeneous with Angola having experienced decades of civil war until 2002 while Namibia saw continuous institutional and infrastructural development particularly after independence in 1990. To capture the multi-layered impacts of droughts on people’s livelihoods, the thesis follows an interdisciplinary approach in the sense of integrating methodologies from physical and human geography. Key questions to be answered are (i) how droughts impact on local livelihoods, (ii) how the environmental drought hazard manifests, (iii) which societal groups are most vulnerable and (iv) what are risk mitigation strategies. Based on the theory of societal relations to nature, a guideline for a social-ecological drought risk assessment is proposed and exemplarily carried out in this thesis. First, a qualitative research phase was conducted to gain system knowledge, followed by quantitative analyses of environmental parameters on the drought hazard and socio-economic variables for drought vulnerability. Finally, this data was conflated in the Household Drought Risk Index (HDRI) to gain orientation knowledge and quantify risk levels among the households in the basin. This provided transformation knowledge to develop and identify risk mitigation strategies.

Mots clés  : Risiko, Vulnerabilität, Gefährdung, Wassersicherheit, Ernährungssicherheit, Afrika, Risk, Vulnerability, Hazard, Water Security, Food Security

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