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University of Cape Town (2012)

Preparing for the future : assessing the vulnerability of small-scale farmers in Bushbuckridge

Waagsaether, Katinka Lund

Titre : Preparing for the future : assessing the vulnerability of small-scale farmers in Bushbuckridge

Auteur : Waagsaether, Katinka Lund

Université de soutenance : University of Cape Town.

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2012

Résumé
Farming is a precarious profession, impacted by the social, economic, political, institutional and physical environment, to which climate change projections pose an additional challenge. South Africa has a highly diverse agricultur l sector, with agricultural systems ranging from subsistence farming in homesteads to commercial estates with thousands of hectares under cultivation. In order to inform agricultural adaptation strategy and action, this thesis takes a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on preparing for the future by understanding the present. The focal aim of this thesis is to assess whether the current coping and adaptation mechanisms of small-scale farmers in the South African Province of Mpumalanga are sufficient for dealing with projected climate change. This is achieved through assessment of how small-scale farmers are currently coping with and adapting to climate variability and extreme weather events. A theoretical framework for vulnerability assessments, that situates farmers in a multi-stressor environment, is employed in order to get an understanding of the multifaceted setting in which small-scale farmers currently live and work. Farmers’ understanding of the current climate is analysed through a comparison of local historical climate data with farmers’ perceptions, while analysis of downscaled climate change projections provides a picture of what the future climate might look like. The study combines fieldwork data with historical and projected climate data from local stations in a combination of qualitative and quantitative data analysis, producing a number of findings that contribute to the discourse on adaptation, and further work to inform future policy and adaptation action.

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