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Rural livelihoods and adaptation to climate variability and change in Chadereka Ward 1 in Muzarabani rural district, Zimbabwe.

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Climate variability and change has become a major concern locally and globally that has negative impacts on the sustainability of livelihoods as well as socio-economic and environmental well-being. There is also widespread consensus that developing contexts, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will be most impact by climate variability and change given low coping and adaptive capacities as well as persistent inequalities, poverty, governance challenges and environmental scarcities and degradation which make communities highly vulnerable. In the quest for data generation, which is still scanty and lacking in Zimbabwe, this research sought to assess the sustainability of the rural livelihoods and adaptation strategies to climate variability and change in Chadereka Ward 1 in Muzarabani Rural District, Zimbabwe. In this endeavor, policies governing the execution of the livelihoods were examined and awareness levels of the households determined. Being informed by relevant literature and primary data collection, the research further explored the impacts of climate variability and change on biophysical and socio-economic conditions before examining the adaptation strategies to the climatic phenomena. Challenges faced by household respondents in adapting to climate variability and change were established. Finally, an evaluation of stakeholder roles in promoting sustainable rural livelihood adaptation to climate variability and change was undertaken. As a purposively sampled case study, a mixed approach research design was followed in gathering data from Chadereka Ward 1. The data was collected from 310 household respondents and 10 key informants. This was augmented by 3 focus group discussions and direct observations. Descriptive statistics, using SPSS version 21, regression analysis and content analysis were useful in data presentation and analysis. Farming, gathering and service provision emerged as the dominant current livelihood practices in the study area. Some household socio-demographic characteristics were found to significantly influence the uptake of both livelihoods and their adaptation to climate variability and change. A combination of adaptation strategies pursued in the Ward, such as agroforestry, conservation farming, irrigation, drought tolerant crop and animal variety, livelihood diversification and flood recession cultivation were hampered by mainly institutional forces such as the lack of financial support, poor infrastructure, unfavorable marketing conditions and lack of alternative fuel sources. Generally, climate variability and change have had negative impacts on the biophysical and socio-economic conditions in the Ward evidenced by water scarcity and reduced livelihood portfolios. The results further revealed a low level of climate variability and change knowledge at the household level. Properly constituted, enhanced and effectively monitored policies regarding the management of the natural resources are required to ensure their sustainability. Without these, the sustainability of the practices in the Ward remains greatly compromised. This also calls for more capacity building and resource mobilization and intervention.


Doctor of Philosophy in Geography. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2017.


Theses - Geography.