Special Issue "Livelihood and Landscape Change in Africa: Future Trajectories for Improved Well-Being under a Changing Climate"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Sheona Shackleton

1. Professor and Deputy Director African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI), University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
2. Honorary Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +27 46 603 7009
Interests: Human-environmental change; rural livelihoods and natural resource use; vulnerability and climate change adaptation; environmental conservation; ecosystem services; natural resource governance; transdisciplinary research
Guest Editor
Dr. Paul Hebinck

Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University, 6706KN Wageningen, The Netherlands; Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Website | E-Mail
Interests: agrarian transformation processes in Africa with an emphasis on land reform; small scale farming and rural livelihoods
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Chinwe Ifejika Speranza

Group Head Integrative Geography, Institute of Geography, University of Bern, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Guest Editor
Dr. Vanessa Masterson

Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: social-ecological systems; sense of place; stewardship; cultural connections to nature; urban-rural migration
Guest Editor
Dr. Dian Spear

African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
Website | E-Mail
Interests: biodiversity conservation; biogeography; wildlife translocations; interdisciplinary research; climate change adaptation
Guest Editor
Dr. Maria Tengö

Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: social-ecological resilience; biocultural systems; ecosystem services and human well-being; transformations towards sustainability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue is a follow-up on the one on “Changing Land Uses, Changing Livelihoods,”, published in 2016, but with a specific focus on Africa and on exploring the linkages between various aspects of human–environmental change and climate change.

Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions, globally, to climate change. Some of the expected impacts include an increase in extreme weather events, increased exposure to water stress, a decrease in rain-fed agriculture in some countries, and the transformation of some 8% of the land surface towards greater aridity. These impacts are superimposed on a wide range of other shocks and stressors that contribute to vulnerability, such as high levels of poverty, food insecurity, health concerns and shocks, weak governance, resource degradation and land grabs to name but a few. Particularly vulnerable to these interlinked changes are small-holder farmers and other rural dwellers who are primarily dependent on land-based activities and ecosystem services for their livelihoods.

Understanding the interactions between the multiple drivers of landscape and livelihood change and the impacts of and responses to these changes is fundamental to promoting future sustainability. Much research has already indicated that without transformation in how landscapes are used and managed for livelihood production and human well-being, future pathways do not look hopeful for many small-holder farmers and other rural dwellers, especially in the arid and semi-arid regions of the continent.

In this Special Issue we hope to answer some of the following questions. What are the changes we are observing in landscapes and livelihoods in rural Africa? What are the multiple, interacting socio-economic, political and environmental drivers of these changes? How are these changes impacting well-being amongst different social groupings within rural communities? What are the responses to these changes and what do they mean for future livelihood trajectories? Where responses are potentially maladaptive, what transformations are needed to set livelihoods on more sustainable trajectories give the uncertainty associated with climate change? Where have there been success stories and what are the lessons from these?

We are interested in contributions that link social-ecological drivers of change across scale to changes in livelihood strategies and well-being, and landscape functioning and management. This includes papers that consider global environmental change policies and practices that work with local realities and complexities and that avoid the often seen de-politicisation of livelihood and development options. We are also interested in the legacies of colonialism in African landscapes and how these impact current land use and rural livelihoods, as well as the socio-cultural drivers of change or stagnation (and implications for transformation and stewardship).

Contributions may be either based on empirical research (we are particularly interested in place-based research and case studies) or conceptual/theoretical works, examining any key processes, including, but not limited to:

  • Smallholder agricultural production and adaptation
  • Land degradation, deforestation and biodiversity loss
  • Livelihood vulnerability, well-being and resilience
  • Sustainable land management approaches: stewardship, ecosystem based adaptation, multi-functional landscape management, agroforestry, etc.
  • Rural-urban linkages, network relationships and transformations

Contributions at the intersection of social-ecological systems thinking, political ecology, land use science, rural sociology and agrarian change are especially welcome, but contributions from other human-environment fields that fore-front smallholder livelihoods and well-being are also highly welcome. Regional diversity in contributions is also desired.

Interested authors should submit their abstracts to Guest Editor, Sheona Shackleton <s.shackleton@ru.ac.za> for assessment and approval before submitting the full manuscripts. Authors are encouraged to submit their abstract as soon as possible before 30 September 2017 deadline.

Prof. Dr. Sheona Shackleton
Dr. Paul Hebinck
Prof. Dr. Chinwe Ifejika Speranza
Dr. Vanessa Masterson
Dr. Dian Spear
Dr. Maria Tengö
Guest Editor

Published Papers (10 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-10
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle Livelihoods on the Edge without a Safety Net: The Case of Smallholder Crop Farming in North-Central Namibia
Received: 24 May 2018 / Revised: 8 June 2018 / Accepted: 15 June 2018 / Published: 21 June 2018
PDF Full-text (213 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Semi-arid Namibia is marginal for agricultural production. Low soil fertility combined with low and variable rainfall restrict the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who often struggle to produce enough food. Although historically, communities have adopted a number of coping mechanisms, climate change threatens to
[...] Read more.
Semi-arid Namibia is marginal for agricultural production. Low soil fertility combined with low and variable rainfall restrict the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who often struggle to produce enough food. Although historically, communities have adopted a number of coping mechanisms, climate change threatens to further reduce agricultural production. There are many additional options available to smallholder farmers to adapt to climate change, but they are not necessarily adopting these measures despite having noticed increasing temperatures and declining rainfall. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in three villages in Onesi constituency to examine what agricultural practices smallholder crop farmers use, perception of changes in their yields, their perspective on future yields and whether they are planning on changing their agricultural practices. The results suggest that to sustain the livelihoods of rural communities in north-central Namibia, support is needed from local and regional authorities, as well as traditional and religious leaders to assist with enhancing access to information, enabling information sharing on adaptation options, and increasing awareness on climate change, its impacts and what can be done about it. In addition to this, implementation of the adaptation action also requires demonstration sites and building capacity to enable the development of self-help groups. Full article
Open AccessArticle Expansion of Commercial Sugarcane Cultivation among Smallholder Farmers in Uganda: Implications for Household Food Security
Received: 31 January 2018 / Revised: 29 May 2018 / Accepted: 5 June 2018 / Published: 11 June 2018
PDF Full-text (2743 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Understanding the impact of commercial agriculture in the face of global change is critical to support strategies that ensure food security and alleviate poverty among households. We assessed the contribution of commercial sugarcane cultivation to household-level food security among smallholder farmers in Busoga
[...] Read more.
Understanding the impact of commercial agriculture in the face of global change is critical to support strategies that ensure food security and alleviate poverty among households. We assessed the contribution of commercial sugarcane cultivation to household-level food security among smallholder farmers in Busoga sub-region, eastern Uganda. Land use changes are motivated by quick commercial gains rather than sustained food production; a situation that influences food security. The majority of households cultivate few crop varieties, lack adequate and nutritious foods, and have inadequate income to purchase food to meet their needs. Inadequacy of food within some commercial sugarcane-cultivating households suggests that generating income does not necessarily increase food security. To cope with food insecurity, households offer labour in exchange for food, borrow food, ration food, and at times steal. This is exacerbated by increasing food crop failures, large family sizes, trade in food items, and declining availability of food and land for food production. Commercial sugarcane cultivation is the main driver of food insecurity but given its perceived economic benefits, future sugarcane plantations expansion in the region is probably inevitable. Therefore, future policy should be designed to provide triple-win strategies (i.e., food security, poverty alleviation, and climate change adaptation) that provide sustainable livelihoods. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Exploring Long-Term Livelihood and Landscape Change in Two Semi-Arid Sites in Southern Africa: Drivers and Consequences for Social–Ecological Vulnerability
Received: 22 February 2018 / Revised: 2 April 2018 / Accepted: 11 April 2018 / Published: 16 April 2018
PDF Full-text (3422 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper investigates the drivers and dynamics of livelihood and landscape change over a 30-year period in two sites in the communal drylands of Zimbabwe (Marwendo) and South Africa (Tshivuhulani). Of particular interest to us was how access to social protection and a
[...] Read more.
This paper investigates the drivers and dynamics of livelihood and landscape change over a 30-year period in two sites in the communal drylands of Zimbabwe (Marwendo) and South Africa (Tshivuhulani). Of particular interest to us was how access to social protection and a wider range of options may mitigate increased vulnerability under a changing climate. A mixed methods approach (using household surveys, focus group discussions, life history interviews, transect walks and secondary sources of data) was applied to develop human–environment timelines for each study site. Findings indicate that prolonged periods of droughts, unreliable rainfall, changing socioeconomic policies and development-related projects were among the major drivers of both positive and negative change in both villages. Marwendo, in particular, experienced a suite of negative drivers in the last 10 years that increased vulnerability and forced households to diversify into potentially maladaptive activities. In contrast, the expansion in social grants in Tshivhulani provided an important safety net that reduced vulnerability, but also led to a decline in farming and a narrowing of livelihood activities for some households. We demonstrate that rural development initiatives such as electrification and road construction can strengthen local people’s capacity to respond to drivers of change, while new methods of farming and diversification of the livelihood portfolio can make them more climate-resilient. However, long-term changes in landscapes and ecosystem services and feedbacks on livelihoods could reverse some of the benefits of development by eroding the natural capital many households still depend on. Full article
Figures

Figure 1a

Open AccessArticle Adoption of Small-Scale Irrigation Farming as a Climate-Smart Agriculture Practice and Its Influence on Household Income in the Chinyanja Triangle, Southern Africa
Received: 31 January 2018 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 10 April 2018 / Published: 14 April 2018
PDF Full-text (2130 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article is concerned with the adoption of small-scale irrigation farming as a climate-smart agriculture practice and its influence on household income in the Chinyanja Triangle. Chinyanja Triangle is a region that is increasingly experiencing mid-season dry spells and an increase in occurrence
[...] Read more.
This article is concerned with the adoption of small-scale irrigation farming as a climate-smart agriculture practice and its influence on household income in the Chinyanja Triangle. Chinyanja Triangle is a region that is increasingly experiencing mid-season dry spells and an increase in occurrence of drought, which is attributed largely to climate variability and change. This poses high agricultural production risks, which aggravate poverty and food insecurity. For this region, adoption of small-scale irrigation farming as a climate-smart agriculture practice is very important. Through a binary logistic and ordinary least squares regression, this article determines factors that influence the adoption of small-scale irrigation farming as a climate-smart agriculture practice and its influence on income among smallholder farmers. The results show that off-farm employment, access to irrigation equipment, access to reliable water sources and awareness of water conservation practices, such as rainwater harvesting, have a significant influence on the adoption of small-scale irrigation farming. On the other hand, the farmer’s age, distance travelled to the nearest market and nature of employment negatively influence the adoption of small-scale irrigation farming decisions. Ordinary least squares regression results showed that the adoption of small-scale irrigation farming as a climate-smart agriculture practice has a significant positive influence on agricultural income. We therefore conclude that to empower smallholder farmers to respond quickly to climate variability and change, practices that will enhance the adoption of small-scale irrigation farming in the Chinyanja Triangle are critical, as this will significantly affect agricultural income. In terms of policy, we recommend that the governments of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, which cover the Chinyanja Triangle, formulate policies that will enhance the adoption of sustainable small scale-irrigation farming as a climate-smart agriculture practice. This will go a long way in mitigating the adverse effects that accompany climate variability and change in the region. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Rangeland Livelihood Strategies under Varying Climate Regimes: Model Insights from Southern Kenya
Received: 31 January 2018 / Revised: 5 April 2018 / Accepted: 10 April 2018 / Published: 12 April 2018
PDF Full-text (10193 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Rangelands throughout sub-Saharan Africa are currently undergoing two major pressures: climate change (through altered rainfall and seasonality patterns) and habitat fragmentation (brought by land use change driven by land demand for agriculture and conservation). Here we explore these dimensions, investigating the impact of
[...] Read more.
Rangelands throughout sub-Saharan Africa are currently undergoing two major pressures: climate change (through altered rainfall and seasonality patterns) and habitat fragmentation (brought by land use change driven by land demand for agriculture and conservation). Here we explore these dimensions, investigating the impact of land use change decisions, by pastoralists in southern Kenya rangelands, on human well-being and animal densities using an agent-based model. The constructed agent-based model uses input biomass data simulated by the Lund-Potsdam-Jena General Ecosystem Simulator (LPJ-GUESS) dynamic vegetation model and parameterized with data from literature. Scenarios of land use change under different rainfall years, land tenure types and levels of wildlife conservation support were simulated. Reflecting reality, our results show livestock grazing as the predominant land use that changes with precipitation and land tenure leading to varying livelihood strategies. For example, agriculture is the most common livelihood in wet years and conservation levels increase with increasing support of wildlife conservation initiatives. Our model demonstrates the complex and multiple interactions between pastoralists, land management and the environment. We highlight the importance of understanding the conditions driving the sustainability of semi-arid rangelands and the communities they support, and the role of external actors, such as wildlife conservation investors, in East Africa. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Tracing Improving Livelihoods in Rural Africa Using Local Measures of Wealth: A Case Study from Central Tanzania, 1991–2016
Received: 30 January 2018 / Revised: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 10 April 2018
PDF Full-text (29880 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We studied livelihood changes and poverty dynamics over a 25-year period in two villages in central Tanzania. The villages were, from the early 1990s and 2000s, strikingly poor with between 50% and 55% of families in the poorest wealth groups. 25 years later
[...] Read more.
We studied livelihood changes and poverty dynamics over a 25-year period in two villages in central Tanzania. The villages were, from the early 1990s and 2000s, strikingly poor with between 50% and 55% of families in the poorest wealth groups. 25 years later much has changed: people have become substantially wealthier, with 64% and 71% in the middle wealth groups. The new wealth had been generated locally, from farming, particularly of sunflowers as a cash crop. This goes against a conventional view of small-scale farming in Tanzania as being stagnant or unproductive. The area of land farmed per family has increased, almost doubling in one village. People have made money, which they invest in mechanised farming, improved housing, education of their children, livestock, and consumer goods. Improved infrastructure and local entrepreneurs have played key roles in the area’s transformation. Locally identified wealth rankings showed that most villagers, those in the middle wealth groups and above, can now support themselves from their land, which is a notable change to a time when 71% and 82% in each village respectively depended on casual labour for their survival. This change has come at a cost to the environment. By 2016, the village forests have largely gone and been replaced by farms. Farmers were concerned that the climate was turning drier because of deforestation. Studying the mundane—the material used in roofs, the size of farms, and so on made it possible to trace and understand the radical transition the area has experienced. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Governing Grazing and Mobility in the Samburu Lowlands, Kenya
Received: 11 January 2018 / Revised: 26 March 2018 / Accepted: 29 March 2018 / Published: 31 March 2018
PDF Full-text (3049 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Pastoral mobility is seen as the most effective strategy to make use of constantly shifting resources. However, mobile pastoralism as a highly-valued strategy to manage grazing areas and exploit resource variability is becoming more complex, due to recurrent droughts, loss of forage, government-led
[...] Read more.
Pastoral mobility is seen as the most effective strategy to make use of constantly shifting resources. However, mobile pastoralism as a highly-valued strategy to manage grazing areas and exploit resource variability is becoming more complex, due to recurrent droughts, loss of forage, government-led settlement schemes, and enclosure of land for community conservation, among other reasons. Yet knowledge of how Samburu pastoralists perceive these changes, and govern and innovate in their mobility patterns and resource use, has received limited attention. This paper seeks to understand how Samburu pastoralists in the drylands of northern Kenya use and govern natural resources, how livestock grazing and mobility is planned for, and how boundaries and territory are constructed and performed both within and beyond the context of (non)governmental projects. Fieldwork for this paper was conducted in Sesia, Samburu East, and consisted of interviews, focus group discussions, and participatory observation. Findings show that livestock mobility involves longer periods and more complex distances due to a shrinking resource base and new rules of access. Although access was previously generated based on the value of reciprocity, the creation of new forms of resource management results in conditional processes of inclusion and exclusion. Policy and project implementation has historically been driven by the imperative to secure land tenure and improve pasture in bounded areas. Opportunities to support institutions that promote mobility have been given insufficient attention. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle A Slipping Hold? Farm Dweller Precarity in South Africa’s Changing Agrarian Economy and Climate
Received: 7 February 2018 / Revised: 6 March 2018 / Accepted: 12 March 2018 / Published: 23 March 2018
PDF Full-text (1546 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper investigates whether farm dwellers in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province of South Africa are subject to a “double exposure”: vulnerable both to the impacts of post-apartheid agrarian dynamics and to the risks of climate change. The evidence is drawn from a 2017
[...] Read more.
The paper investigates whether farm dwellers in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province of South Africa are subject to a “double exposure”: vulnerable both to the impacts of post-apartheid agrarian dynamics and to the risks of climate change. The evidence is drawn from a 2017 survey that was undertaken by the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA), which is a land rights Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), of 843 farm dweller households. Data on the current living conditions and livelihoods was collected on 15.3% of the farm dweller population in the area. The paper demonstrates that farm dwellers are a fragmented, agricultural precariat subject to push and pull drivers of mobility that leave them with a precarious hold on rural farm dwellings. The key provocation is that we need to be attentive to whether the hold farm dwellers have over land and livelihoods is slipping further as a result of instability in the agrarian economy? This instability arises from agriculture’s arguably maladaptive response to the intersection of structural agrarian change and climate risk in post-apartheid South Africa. While the outcomes will only be apparent in time, the risks are real, and the paper concludes with a call for agrarian policy pathways that are both more adaptive and achieve social justice objectives. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Chiefs in a Democracy: A Case Study of the ‘New’ Systems of Regulating Firewood Harvesting in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Received: 5 January 2018 / Revised: 4 March 2018 / Accepted: 7 March 2018 / Published: 12 March 2018
PDF Full-text (948 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Much of the international commons literature reveals a decreased functioning of local traditional institutions that regulate natural resource harvesting. In South Africa, it is believed that the creation of new democratic structures at the end of Apartheid has contributed significantly to the deterioration
[...] Read more.
Much of the international commons literature reveals a decreased functioning of local traditional institutions that regulate natural resource harvesting. In South Africa, it is believed that the creation of new democratic structures at the end of Apartheid has contributed significantly to the deterioration in traditional resource regulation and this in turn has led to the extensive resource degradation seen in parts of the country. Many of these assertions, though, remain anecdotal in nature. Given the high reliance by rural households on natural resources, and the serious negative implications that over-use has on livelihood security, understanding how well or poorly such commons are regulated is key to ensuring the sustainability of such resource-dependent populations. The aim of this study was therefore to examine systems of resource governance, focusing specifically on firewood, and to determine the roles of traditional and democratically elected community leaders in six rural villages spanning two chieftaincies in Bushbuckridge, South Africa. In each study village, five local leaders were interviewed and five community focus groups were conducted. Results indicate that most parties still regard the Chief as the ultimate authority for regulating firewood harvesting. However, overall firewood management appears weak, at best, across the region. Although some authors attribute this to community confusion over the roles of local leaders in a new democracy, we provide evidence that other socio-political factors, including political expediency, may be driving the increasingly relaxed implementation of these firewood management systems. With resource dependence remaining a vital contributor to livelihood security across the developing world and with many rural communities facing increasing strain under local resource depletion, these findings shed new light on the complex social dynamics underlying the widely reported weakening of traditional institutions in South Africa. In so doing, it offers insights into local firewood governance that can be used to combat these challenges and thereby reduce regional social and ecological vulnerability being experienced in communal landscapes across the region. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Assessing Climate Smart Agriculture and Its Determinants of Practice in Ghana: A Case of the Cocoa Production System
Received: 5 January 2018 / Revised: 23 February 2018 / Accepted: 27 February 2018 / Published: 4 March 2018
PDF Full-text (1751 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Agriculture in Africa is not only exposed to climate change impacts but is also a source of greenhouse gases (GHGs). While GHG emissions in Africa are relatively minimal in global dimensions, agriculture in the continent constitutes a major source of GHG emissions. In
[...] Read more.
Agriculture in Africa is not only exposed to climate change impacts but is also a source of greenhouse gases (GHGs). While GHG emissions in Africa are relatively minimal in global dimensions, agriculture in the continent constitutes a major source of GHG emissions. In Ghana, agricultural emissions are accelerating, mainly due to ensuing deforestation of which smallholder cocoa farming is largely associated. The sector is also bedevilled by soil degradation, pests, diseases and poor yields coupled with poor agronomic practices. Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) thus offers a way to reduce the sector’s GHG emissions and to adapt the sector to the adverse impacts of climate change. This study assesses the potential of CSA vis-à-vis conventional cocoa systems to enhance production, mitigate and/or remove GHG emissions and build resilience, in addition to understanding key determinants influencing CSA practices. Using a mixed methods approach, data was collected in Ghana’s Juabeso and Atwima Mponua districts through semi-structured household questionnaires administered to 80 household heads of cocoa farms, two focus group discussions and expert interviews. A farm budget analysis of productivity and economic performance for both scenarios show that CSA practitioners had a 29% higher income per ha compared to the conventional farmers. Estimations using the FAO Ex-Ante Carbon-Balance Tool (EX-ACT) indicate CSA practices preserve forest resources without which the effect on carbon balance as presented by conventional farming would remain a source of GHG emissions. Farm tenure, age of farmers, location of farm, residential status and access to extension services were the main determining factors influencing CSA practices among cocoa farmers. An in-depth understanding of these indicators can help identify ways to strengthen CSA strategies in the cocoa sector and their contributions to climate change mitigation and resilience. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Back to Top