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University of Cape Town (1997)

Land degradation in drylands : resettlement and borehole provision in Gam, Namibia

Kibbassa, Jane Andrew Nyanjuma

Titre : Land degradation in drylands : resettlement and borehole provision in Gam, Namibia

Auteur : Kibbassa, Jane Andrew Nyanjuma

Université de soutenance : University of Cape Town

Grade : Master of Philosophy in Environmental Science 1997

Land degradation has been recognised as a major economic, social and environmental problem, with more severity in arid and semi-arid regions of Africa. Throughout the dryland regions of Africa natural resources are deteriorating at an accelerating pace. This ecological degradation is caused by overexploitation of resources, and severely undermines Africa’s economic future which is largely dependent on agriculture. Amongst the main factors contributing to land degradation in drylands are human actions that ignore the resilience limits of drylands. The ecology of drylands requires land uses that allow flexibility and mobility rather than imposing stability. During the last century, technology and cultural changes have altered the pattern of exploitation of arid and semi-arid areas. Most often the changes are driven by economic needs or national governments policies. Governments tend to make decisions, even if well intended, without prior assessments of the environmental suitability of the intended sites. In most dryland regions the tendency has been towards development of permanent settlements in under-utilised areas leading to increases in population densities beyond the areas’ ecological capacity. The result has been overutilisation of natural resources particularly around available water points. This has in turn led to accelerated ecological and cultural decline, and has enhanced the process of land degradation. This dissertation provides a theoretical framework of ecological characteristics and the socio-economic adaptations of dryland environments. The factors contributing to land degradation in arid and semi-arid lands are examined. Examples are drawn from a resettlement programme and the subsequent provision of boreholes in a semi-arid area in Gam, Namibia. The dissertation specifically seeks to examine the Government of Namibia’s political decision on a resettlement programme in Gam and evaluate the impacts of resettlement on ecological and socio-economic variables in Gam.


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