Vulnerability of fisherfolks and their perceptions towards climate change and its impacts on their livelihoods in a peri-urban lake system in Zimbabwe

  • Beaven Utete
  • Crispen Phiri
  • Sibonani S. Mlambo
  • Never Muboko
  • Bernadette T. Fregene


Peri-urban fisheries- and fishing-dependent livelihoods face multiscalar threats of climate change, water pollution, transforming land initiatives and volatile markets. The objectives of this study were to assess the livelihood strategies and assets as well as the vulnerability of peri-urban fisherfolks in Lakes Chivero and Manyame, Zimbabwe. Furthermore, the study investigated the perceptions of fisherfolks towards climate change and its effects on their livelihoods. We employed a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods based on the livelihood indicator approach to assess climate risks and the associated vulnerabilities of peri-urban fisherfolks for the period November 2015–January 2017. Results indicate that the livelihood of the majority of fisherfolks (92.3% in Lake Manyame and 97.1% in Lake Chivero) is predominantly based on fishing and farming. More than 60% of the fisherfolks have attained formal education with some even attaining university education. Most (87%) peri-urban fisherfolks in the Lake Chivero and Manyame are aware of climate change and attest to its negative effects on their fishing-dependent livelihoods. Synergistic and multiplier relations between climatic and non-climatic factors such as water quality and quantity deterioration, obsolete fishing equipment and low working capital are key drivers of vulnerability. Economic diversification is the main adaptive strategy adopted by fisherfolks to reduce vulnerability. Non-significant differences in livelihood strategies, fisherfolk responses and perceptions towards climate change are attributed to the contiguity of the two lakes. Application and implementation of similar climate mitigation and adaptive strategies is a potential solution to reduce current and future vulnerability of fisherfolks in contiguous peri-urban lakes.


Climate change Peri-urban fisheries Vulnerability Water security Urbanisation Zimbabwe 



We are grateful to the Chinhoyi University of Technology Graduate Studies Office for the Grant (PG 4299) to conduct this research. We sincerely thank Newman Songore and Parks officials at Chivero Research Station for their assistance in facilitating the focus group discussions and for contributing their knowledge and support to the study. This research was supported by funding from the Department for International Development (DFID) under the Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) program implemented by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wildlife Ecology and ConservationChinhoyi University of TechnologyChinhoyiZimbabwe
  2. 2.Department of Freshwater and Fishery ScienceChinhoyi University of TechnologyChinhoyiZimbabwe
  3. 3.Department of Biotechnology ScienceChinhoyi University of TechnologyChinhoyiZimbabwe
  4. 4.Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries ManagementUniversity of IbadanIbadanNigeria

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