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University of Witwatersrand (2005)

Coping with and adapting to drought in Zimbabwe

Gandure, Sithabiso

Titre : Coping with and adapting to drought in Zimbabwe

Auteur : Gandure, Sithabiso

Université de soutenance : University of Witwatersrand

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2005

Southern Africa has in the past decade been subjected to extreme weather conditions of droughts and floods. There is emerging evidence to suggest that the frequency and magnitude of droughts, may possibly increase in future in association with global warming. One of the regions estimated to be most at risk to heightened climate variability is Southern Africa due to its limited ability to adapt to climate stress. The focus of most climate studies to date have been on vulnerability as an outcome of climate variability and change with a focus usually on single stressors generating vulnerability. Research has often, however, not fully investigated how a range of factors including climate variability may exacerbate adaptive capabilities to global environmental changes or multiple stressors. This growing research need has resulted in several efforts being undertaken in Southern Africa. The SADC Vulnerability Assessment Committee including NGO and government partnership, for example, coordinated vulnerability assessments in the region in response to the 2001/02 food crisis. Other networks, for example, Forum for Food Security in Southern Africa and Humanitarian Practice Network have been formed to enhance the understanding of the root causes of the food crisis in Southern Africa
The purpose of this study was to identify multiple factors that generate vulnerability and those that enhance resilience to climate risk in Zimbabwe. An investigation of the extent to which the various factors such as unequal distribution and access to markets, power structures and breakdown of social networks generate vulnerability was undertaken. A sample of two villages with varied climate conditions and deemed to be a near representation of the climate conditions in Zimbabwe was used, Matema village (high rainfall area) and Tjaheta village (relatively low rainfall area). A combination of methods were used to probe related and different issues surrounding vulnerability to climate risk such as the SC (UK) Household Economy Approach, PRA, questionnaires and interviews.
The sources of vulnerability in Tjaheta and Matema villages have been found to be shaped not only by climate but also by socio-economic, political and environmental factors that interact at different levels and scales. Tjaheta village is more vulnerable to climate risk because of poor infrastructure, lack of markets, limited institutional support and a poor biophysical environment. Matema village has a developed infrastructure and marketing environment but vulnerability is differentiated by levels of access to resources including markets and power structures as well as good health.
The cutting theme across the two villages, despite the climatic differences is that, on the one hand, inability to cope with droughts has unveiled the way socio-economic, political and biophysical factors act together in constraining rural people’s coping capabilities. On the other hand, opportunities for resilience have been exploited by those households or communities with access to financial and capital resources, as well as access to structures representing political power. Finally, the study revealed the importance of vulnerability assessments when there is no crisis. Information is needed on past and present day chronic vulnerabilities so that when a crisis arises, targeting can proceed swiftly

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