Living with multiple, complex risks of commercial sugarcane farming in KwaZulu-Natal : the role of climate change?

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dc.contributor.author Massey, Ruth Thokozile
dc.date.accessioned 2009-04-14T12:32:20Z
dc.date.available 2009-04-14T12:32:20Z
dc.date.issued 2009-04-14T12:32:20Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/6889
dc.description.abstract The aim of this research is to examine the contextual environment in which farmers operate so as to improve our understanding of the factors shaping vulnerability to climate risk. A key focus is on the livelihoods of sugarcane farmers, using a case study of small-, medium-scale (emerging) and large-scale sugarcane farmers in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands area of Eston and its surrounds. A social vulnerability assessment was undertaken under the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF) to test the hypothesis that climate risk is considered a major contributing factor to the vulnerability of commercial farmers in KwaZulu-Natal and needs to be effectively managed. This involved an investigation into the multiple stresses (both external and internal, on-farm and off-farm, climatic and non climatic) acting on the system. It is clear that climate change risk and variability is a major, but not the sole contributing factor to the vulnerability of commercial farmers in this part of KwaZulu-Natal. Climate change does need to be effectively managed but it will be best done in conjunction with the management of the other multiple and interacting threats and stresses identified in this study. Climate change and vulnerability, as well as the other multiple stresses, are acting on an already vulnerable system, exacerbating and compounding present risks. This research also explored a number of coping and response strategies that commercial farmers have adopted in response to the threats and stresses and investigated particularly, what elements enhance or restrict these strategies (both on-farm and off-farm). These strategies posses potential as possible future adaptation options. It was found that the issues of access to livelihood assets (social, financial, natural/environmental, physical, human, knowledge assets and capital under the SLF) are key to the adaptive capacity and the adaptation strategies that farmers employ. Institutions (both formal and informal) play a pivotal role in this access to livelihood assets both enabling and restricting access. In conclusion, this work determined that a focus on only one element, such as climate change, will not significantly reduce the vulnerability of commercial farmers. There is an interactive, dynamic and multifaceted network present with a number of factors acting within and from outside the system. Political, biophysical, social and economic factors interact and combine to compound vulnerability, requiring more integrative and multiple response strategies. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Climate change en
dc.subject Commercial farming en
dc.subject vulnerability en
dc.subject adaptation en
dc.title Living with multiple, complex risks of commercial sugarcane farming in KwaZulu-Natal : the role of climate change? en
dc.type Thesis en


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