Livelihood Dynamics Across a Variable Flooding Regime
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Variability in environmental phenomena such as fire, flooding, and weather-related events can have significant impacts for social and environmental systems and their coupled interactions. Livelihoods systems reliant on the natural environment can be disrupted or eliminated, while associated governance regimes require negotiation to ensure equitable and sustainable management responses. These patterns can be particularly pronounced within areas prone to flooding, as these sites can experience variability in the location, timing, amount, and duration of flooding events. While research within the social and natural sciences has evaluated these dynamics within flooding regimes, the coupled interactions can be underemphasized even though they are integral in producing livelihood systems and possibilities for environmental management. This paper details research conducted from 2011 to 2016 in five villages located in different locations within the Okavango Delta of Botswana. We report the findings from qualitative interviewing and livelihood mapping activities that are integrated with remote sensing analysis to provide concrete empirical detail on the variability of flooding and resulting variations in perception and livelihood responses. The paper demonstrates that flooding dynamics vary at discrete locations and produce diverse perceptions that are tied to livelihood adjustments in place-specific ways. These patterns are also embedded in regional and global processes that have significant implications for household vulnerability within socio-ecological systems strongly impacted by local and distant climatic and hydrological drivers of change.
KeywordsFlooding Flooding regime Variability Livelihood Socio-ecological system Botswana Okavango Delta
This research was supported by the United States National Science Foundation (BCS/GSS-0964596) andBCS/GSS Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Supplement Award. The work was also supported by grant, P2CHD042849 awarded to the Population Research Center at The University of Texasat Austin by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Fuata John, Japhet John, and Kentse Madise were invaluable as our research assistants. Allison White and Evan Griffin helped conduct the qualitative interviews in the Etsha region in 2011, and Amelia C. Eisenhart contributed to the remote sensing analysis that informed Figure 1. We are especially appreciative of our many informants for their time and generous insights.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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