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Local Perceptions of Risk to Livelihoods in the Semi-Arid Landscape of Southern Africa

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Bunting, Erin; Steele, Jessica; Keys, Eric; Muyengwa, Shylock; Child, Brian; Southworth, Jane
Journal: Land
Volume: 2
Page(s): 225-251
Date: 2013
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8862
Sector: Land Tenure & Use
Region: Africa
Subject(s): livelihoods
Abstract: "The United Nations and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change deem many regions of southern Africa as vulnerable landscapes due to changing climatic regimes, ecological conditions, and low adaptive capacity. Typically in highly vulnerable regions, multiple livelihood strategies are employed to enable sustainable development. In Botswana, livelihood strategies have diversified over time to include tourism and other non-agricultural activities. While such diversification and development have been studied, little is known about how locals perceive livelihood risks. This article analyzes perceptions of risk through a risk hazards framework. During the summer of 2010, 330 surveys were completed within seven villages in northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip of Namibia. During the survey respondents were asked to list the biggest threats/challenges to their livelihoods. Responses were grouped into categories of risk according to the capital assets on which livelihoods depend: natural, physical, financial, human, and social. A risk mapping procedure was utilized, for which indices of severity, incidence, and risk were calculated. It is hypothesized that people’s perception of risk is directly dependent on environmental conditions and employment status of the household. Results indicate that problems related to natural and financial assets are the greatest source of risk to livelihoods. Furthermore, flood, drought, and other measures of climate variability are perceived as influential, typically negatively, to livelihood strategies."

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