Current and future impacts of climate change include increasing variability in a number of biophysical processes, such as temperature, precipitation, and flooding. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has suggested that Southern Africa is particularly vulnerable to the anticipated impacts from global climate change and that social and ecological systems in the region will be disrupted and likely transformed in future decades. This article engages with current research within geography and cognate disciplines on the possibilities for responsive livelihoods within socio-ecological systems experiencing biophysical change. The paper draws from an ongoing research project that is evaluating perceptions of environmental change, specifically of precipitation and flooding dynamics, in order to understand social responses. We report on the findings from qualitative interviewing conducted in 2010 and 2011 in the communities of Etsha 1, Etsha 6, and Etsha 13 within the Okavango Delta of Botswana. While flooding and precipitation patterns have been dynamic and spatially differentiated, some livelihood systems have proven rigid in their capacity to enable adaptive responses. We assert this demonstrates the need for detailed research on livelihood dynamics to support adjustments to biophysical variability within socio-ecological systems experiencing change.
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