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Stellenbosch University (2022)

A social, environmental and political history of drought in Zimbabwe, c.1911 to 1992

Takuva, Tinashe

Titre : A social, environmental and political history of drought in Zimbabwe, c.1911 to 1992

Auteur : Takuva, Tinashe

Université de soutenance : Stellenbosch University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2022

This thesis explores eight decades of social, environmental, and political history of drought in Zimbabwe from around 1911, when the first major drought under colonial rule occurred, to 1992, which saw the worst drought of the post-colonial era and perhaps of the whole twentieth century. It argues that the socio-economic capacity, the environmental setting and the political structure of a society or country is central in abating or exacerbating the impact of drought before, during and after the dearth incidence. The thesis reveals the shifting socio-economic responses of both the state and African peasants to drought. It traces how peasants deployed various socio-cultural methods, both enduring and novel, to cope with drought from colonial to post-colonial period, and the changing efforts of the state towards African peasants during drought. The thesis draws on global, regional and local historiographies on drought, the African environmental historiography and the Zimbabwean land and agrarian historiography to historicize drought, analysing the shifting patterns of occurrence, impact and response by the government and African peasantry. This thesis engages with these broad historiographies in order to understand the historical processes that created underlying conditions within which drought occurred. Thus, it explores the changing social, environmental and political nature of drought in Zimbabwe. In doing so, this study localised drought in the land and agricultural history of twentieth century Zimbabwe. This interconnectedness of different types of droughts will be explored by this thesis, and made visible in the agricultural history of Zimbabwe. Moreover, it applied Sen’s model, the entitlement approach, in the Zimbabwean context. Sen’s entitlement approach entails the ability of a person to secure enough food within the legal framework of a society. Changing peasant-state relations in Zimbabwe, within the context of drought, were characterised by the state’s use of food entitlements to either ameliorate or worsen the drought survival capacity of the peasantry. In response, the peasants negotiated their own survival through engaging private traders, the state and nature to command enough food for both human and livestock.


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