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University of Western Sydney (2020)

Examining drought resilience in Eswatini and Lesotho

Kamara, Joseph K.

Titre : Examining drought resilience in Eswatini and Lesotho

Auteur : Kamara, Joseph K.

Université de soutenance : University of Western Sydney

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2019

This thesis explores drought resilience and the well-being of rural communities of southern Africa. The region is vulnerable to the negative effects of recurrent droughts, which erode development gains and continuously degrade the capacity of communities to withstand, absorb, adapt and recover from recurrent drought hazards. Drought occurrences have increasingly intensified in severity across the region, resulting in catastrophic effects. Two of the most drought-prone countries in southern Africa are the land-locked Kingdoms of Lesotho and Eswatini, where the majority of the population live in rural-based subsistence communities. Each drought occurrence degrades the capabilities of the communities to withstand the drought hazard, triggering interventions to stave off hunger and restore structures and systems in the communities. This PhD research has sought to understand the resilience of rural subsistence communities and to examine the relationship of resilience to drought and well-being. The major findings of this thesis are described in Chapters 4–6 and the papers are presented as individual chapters in the thesis. Overall, the findings reveal communities’ resilience is inherent and the main contributing factors are knowledgeability, the exercise of power, institutional support, inherent capacities, collectivism, value systems and the resolve to overcome adversity. Interestingly, power is also used to limit access to information and resources and to impede collective participation and collaboration, which inadvertently undermines efforts to build resilience in the communities. Communities’ resilience is enhanced when institutional support is built on inherent capacities, such as traditional knowledge, practices and customs. However, inherent capabilities are not mainstreamed within the contemporary institutions of disaster governance because contemporary institutions rely on scientific knowledge imported into the affected communities. Nonetheless, the construct of resilience to recurrent droughts remains poorly understood among the key stakeholders. In conclusion, communities affected by recurrent droughts are not passive participants but proactively participate and adopt resilience-building behaviour and practices. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that policies which prioritise resilience as a major national development goal be enacted, implemented and monitored. Current policies are outdated, reactive to recurrent droughts and do not prioritise resilience as a major policy goal. Thus, there is a need to promote a better understanding of resilience among policymakers and communities of practice, and to overhaul current drought governance instruments in order to position resilience as a critical policy goal. Achieving such a change will safeguard the development gains and well-being of the vast majority of rural subsistence-based populations. Mots clés : drought management Eswatini Lesotho rural conditions


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