Long-term drivers of vulnerability and resilience to drought in the Zambezi-Save area of southern Africa, 1505–1830

Hannaford, Matthew (2018) Long-term drivers of vulnerability and resilience to drought in the Zambezi-Save area of southern Africa, 1505–1830. Global and Planetary Change, 166 . pp. 94-106. ISSN 0921-8181

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Long-term drivers of vulnerability and resilience to drought in the Zambezi-Save area of southern Africa, 1505–1830

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Abstract

Historical studies of human interaction with climate are one approach through which to understand responses to environmental stress today. Most studies of vulnerability are based upon short timeframes in the recent past and so may focus on its symptoms rather than its underlying causes, or derive exclusively from systems-based approaches that can present historical change without recourse to human agency. This paper makes extensive use of the historical written record to analyse the comparative root-causes of the vulnerability and resilience of rural farming communities to drought over a period of three centuries (1505–1830) in the area between the Zambezi and Save rivers in southern Africa. The paper first considers vulnerability, resilience and adaptation as temporal frameworks, and analyses evidence for drought and its impacts in the pre-colonial past. It then reconstructs agro-ecosystem, livelihood and institutional vulnerability for six societies and settlements over the long-run using an indicator approach. The resultant trajectories of vulnerability are discussed in the context of the differential impacts of past drought, through which the decisive drivers and constraints of vulnerability and resilience are identified. The paper concludes with a number of key themes from this long-run analysis for contemporary vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, and points to the importance of institutional adaptation, normative goals, and uneven distributions of power.

Keywords:Vulnerability, Resilience, Adaptation, Institutions, History, Colonialism, Southern Africa
Subjects:L Social studies > L725 Historical Geography
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V253 Southern African History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V250 African History
F Physical Sciences > F860 Climatology
L Social studies > L713 Human and Social Geography of Africa
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
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ID Code:32363
Deposited On:26 Jun 2018 20:21

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