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The role of cultural beliefs in shaping farmers' behavioural decisions to adapt to drought risks in Gaza Province - Southern Mozambique

Salite, D. L. J. (2019) The role of cultural beliefs in shaping farmers' behavioural decisions to adapt to drought risks in Gaza Province - Southern Mozambique. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Drought has had an adverse effect on farmers' agricultural activities, livestock production, health and livelihoods. Therefore, adaptation of the agricultural sector is urgent to reduce farmers' vulnerability, enhance their resilience and adapt to drought. Several factors have affected farmers' adaptation to drought, such as socio-economic, technical, institutional and cultural. However, this study aims to explore the under-researched role of cultural beliefs in shaping these farmers' behavioural decisions to adapt to drought. To undertake this, the study takes the case of small-scale rain-fed farmers in the southern province of Gaza, Mozambique. Findings show that farmers have a limited knowledge and understanding of climate change, and lack scientific information about drought. Instead, many farmers believe that drought is a punishment from God or their ancestors for some wrongdoing. Nonetheless, the farmers find a variety of explanations for the wrongdoing, which are based on their value-laden perceptions of morally wrong occurrences that are taking place nationwide. The findings also show that farmers' implement reactive responses to deal with the causes and the impacts of drought. However, farmers' cultural beliefs influence the timing and order of implementation of two types of response. Firstly, farmers usually implement collective responses to correct the perceived wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness and rain from God and/or their ancestors through the medium of traditional ceremonies and prayer. These responses bind farmers together in solidarity in times of drought as they are driven by their common need for rainfall for their agricultural activities. The responses thus act as a psychological support system for farmers in their attempts to deal with the causes of drought, and to recover from the hardship. Secondly, farmers, often on an individual basis, implement diverse strategies to reduce the impacts of drought through activities to generate income, and to secure immediate food needs or help from the government, family and friends. Farmers' choices of these types of responses and their level of vulnerability are not only driven by their cultural practices, but also by the socio-economic and institutional environment in which they live. Although all the above reactive strategies are not yet helping farmers to adapt to drought, results do not demonstrate culture as a barrier to adaptation in the first instance. Rather, the approach with which drought adaptation strategies are designed and implemented is what dictates whether or not culture will constitute a barrier or help. Therefore, the study emphasises the crucial need to understanding farmers' cultural dimensions of adaptation and further incorporate them in the design and implementation of drought adaptation strategies in order to increase farmers' support and engagement with them and the likelihood of a successful adaptive outcome.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Arnall, A. and Dorward, P.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Economic and Social Sciences Division > Livelihoods Research
ID Code:85433

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