The Impacts of Drought on Ecosystem Services and Livelihoods in the Global South

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 December 2021) | Viewed by 25215

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Makhanda, Eastern Cape 6140, South Africa
Interests: environmental resource use and household welfare; conservation conflicts; energy efficiency

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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Makhanda, Eastern Cape 6140, South Africa
Interests: restoration ecology

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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Makhanda, Eastern Cape 6140, South Africa
Interests: urban ecology; ecosystem disservices

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Guest Editor
Human Geography at Department of Economy and Society, Box 625, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden
Interests: land use changes; rural livelihoods

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Guest Editor
Institute of Marine Research, Department of Aquatic Resources, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Turistgatan 5, SE-453 30 Lysekil, Sweden
Interests: food webs; biodiversity; population, community and ecosystem ecology; fisheries; ecosystem-based management; biocomplexity; biological oceanography; climate change; philosophy
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Stockholm University, Dept Phys Geog & Quaternary Geol, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: ecology; conservation; agricultural landscapes; land use; climate change

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Guest Editor
African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa
Interests: vulnerability; climate change adaptation; ecosystem services; landscape and livelihood change; transdisciplinarity
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CPUT Research Chair Oceans Economy, Centre for Sustainable Oceans, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, PO Box 652, Cape Town 8000, South Africa
Interests: oceans economies and governance and ecosystem based management approaches

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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, Makhanda 6139, South Africa
Interests: land degradation; herbivory; natural resource management; rangeland ecology; fire
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The recent UNCCD (2019) Report on Drought Impact and Vulnerability Assessment stated that the impacts that droughts have on livelihoods, economies, and ecosystems have been higher due to drought intensity and frequency. Drought has especially negative impacts on marginalized and vulnerable societies, particularly in the Global South, due to its socio-economic vulnerabilities. While risks of drought impacts may seem obvious, e.g., water scarcity, crop loss, and increases in disease outbreak, huge knowledge gaps remain in this arena, making anticipation of, and planning for, long-term impacts difficult.

In this Special Issue, we aim to provide a collection of papers that critically evaluates links between drought frequency and severity, ecosystem services and disservices, and associated impacts to livelihoods across terrestrial and coastal ecosystems in the Global South. Topics of interest include identification of the social actors most affected by droughts and whether drought impacts differ across social-ecological gradients, livelihoods, and ecosystems. Interest also extends to how different ecosystem service generation is affected by drought intensity and frequency as ecosystem stressors and the extent to which drought might generate disservices as ecosystem shocks. Future proofing of systems against the risk impacts of drought shocks and stressors is dependent on informed decision options that are, in turn, dependent on adequate empirical observations across social, economic, and environmental disciplines.

We consequently welcome manuscripts from across natural and social sciences, as well as cross-disciplinary studies, including in-depth case studies (place based), reviews (linked to case studies), studies that cross socio-ecological gradients, and case studies from urban, rural, and coastal environments (catchment-to-coast). In particular, we invite contributions based on studies in areas that have or are still experiencing sequential droughts.

Interested authors should submit abstracts to Guest Editors, Gladman Thondhlana ([email protected]), Sheunesu Ruwanza ([email protected]), and Elandrie Davoren ([email protected]) for assessment and approval before submitting full manuscripts. Authors are encouraged to submit their contributions as soon as possible, with abstracts being submitted prior to 30 October 2021 and the full manuscript by 30 December 2021.

Dr. Gladman Thondhlana
Dr. Sheunesu Ruwanza
Dr. Elandrie Davoren
Dr. Staffan Rosell
Dr. Andrea Belgrano
Prof. Dr. Regina Lindborg
Prof. Dr. Sheona Shackleton
Prof. Dr. Ken Findlay
Prof. James Gambiza
Guest Editors

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • droughts
  • risk impact
  • ecosystem services
  • livelihoods
  • social-ecological gradient

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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13 pages, 800 KiB  
Article
Persistent Droughts and Water Scarcity: Households’ Perceptions and Practices in Makhanda, South Africa
by Avela Pamla, Gladman Thondhlana and Sheunesu Ruwanza
Land 2021, 10(6), 593; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060593 - 4 Jun 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 5683
Abstract
Households in many cities worldwide consume substantial amounts of water, but increasing aridity will result in serious water supply challenges in the future. In South Africa, droughts are now a common phenomenon, with severe implications on water supply for urban households. Developing interventions [...] Read more.
Households in many cities worldwide consume substantial amounts of water, but increasing aridity will result in serious water supply challenges in the future. In South Africa, droughts are now a common phenomenon, with severe implications on water supply for urban households. Developing interventions to minimise the impacts of drought requires understanding of users’ perceptions of water scarcity, water use practices, and participation in water conservation practices. Using household surveys across different income groups (low, medium, and high) in Makhanda, South Africa, this study investigates households’ perceptions of water scarcity, water use, and conservation practices as a basis for designing pathways for sustainable water use practices. Results indicate that a substantial proportion of households were aware of water scarcity and attributed it to poor municipal planning rather than drought and wasteful use practices. Households reported good water use behaviour, but wasteful practices (e.g., regular flushing of toilets) were evident. Gender, age, education, and environmental awareness influenced water use practices, but the relationships were generally weak. Households participated in water conservation measures but felt the local municipal authority lagged in addressing water supply challenges. The implications of the study are discussed. Full article
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19 pages, 4832 KiB  
Article
Local Perceptions on the Impact of Drought on Wetland Ecosystem Services and Associated Household Livelihood Benefits: The Case of the Driefontein Ramsar Site in Zimbabwe
by Thomas Marambanyika, Upenyu Naume Mupfiga, Tatenda Musasa and Keto Ngwenya
Land 2021, 10(6), 587; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060587 - 2 Jun 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3496
Abstract
The paper assesses local people’s perceptions on the impact of drought on wetland ecosystem services and the associated household livelihood benefits, focusing on the Driefontein Ramsar site in Chirumanzu district, Zimbabwe. Field data were obtained using a questionnaire from 159 randomly selected households, [...] Read more.
The paper assesses local people’s perceptions on the impact of drought on wetland ecosystem services and the associated household livelihood benefits, focusing on the Driefontein Ramsar site in Chirumanzu district, Zimbabwe. Field data were obtained using a questionnaire from 159 randomly selected households, key informant interviews and transect walks. The study findings show that provisioning, regulating and supporting services are severely affected by a high frequency of drought, occurring at least once every two years, compared to cultural services. There is a reduction in water for domestic use and crop farming, pasture for livestock, fish, thatch grass and ground water recharge. Although cultural services such as traditional rain-making ceremonies and spiritual enhancement are largely unaffected by drought, the wetland’s aesthetic value was reported to be diminishing. The habitat and breeding areas of endangered crane bird species were perceived to be dwindling, affecting their reproduction. All the household heads are not formally employed and largely depend on the wetland resources for food and income. However, drought is adversely affecting wetland-based agricultural activities that are key pillars of the households’ economy. Therefore, there is a need for alternative livelihood strategies that enable local communities to adapt to drought impacts without exerting more pressure on the declining wetland resources. Full article
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18 pages, 2370 KiB  
Article
Impact of Agricultural Drought Resilience on the Welfare of Smallholder Livestock Farming Households in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa
by Ringetani Matlou, Yonas T. Bahta, Enoch Owusu-Sekyere and Henry Jordaan
Land 2021, 10(6), 562; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060562 - 27 May 2021
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 4457
Abstract
Recurring agricultural droughts are of concern to smallholder livestock farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. This study determined the impact of agricultural drought resilience on smallholder livestock farming households’ welfare in the Frances Baard District Municipality (FBDM), in Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Interviews, [...] Read more.
Recurring agricultural droughts are of concern to smallholder livestock farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. This study determined the impact of agricultural drought resilience on smallholder livestock farming households’ welfare in the Frances Baard District Municipality (FBDM), in Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Interviews, more specifically survey interviews, were conducted with 207 smallholder livestock farmers. We used compensation variation, resilience index and linear regression models to analyse the data. The findings indicate that smallholder farmers who received drought relief support saw an improvement in their welfare. However, the welfare improvements varied across respondents and different gender categories, with males having higher welfare improvements relative to females. The study also found that economic capital, social capital, human capital and natural capital substantially affected the welfare of smallholder farmers. Furthermore, the study revealed that the smallholder farmers had a moderate agricultural drought resilience index, but low natural resilience capital. The study recommends that governments and non-governmental policymakers aiming to improve the welfare of smallholder farmers should focus on building their economic, social, human and capital resource bases. In this way, the smallholder farmers will be resilient in a time of climatic shock. Full article
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Review

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16 pages, 638 KiB  
Review
Research Progress and Conceptual Insights on Drought Impacts and Responses among Smallholder Farmers in South Africa: A Review
by Sheunesu Ruwanza, Gladman Thondhlana and Menelisi Falayi
Land 2022, 11(2), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11020159 - 20 Jan 2022
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 10043
Abstract
Drought is a natural phenomenon which can cause widespread socio-economic and environmental impacts. Recent predictions suggest that drought frequency and intensity will increase in Southern Africa; therefore, there is a need for more scientific information on drought impacts and responses by vulnerable groups [...] Read more.
Drought is a natural phenomenon which can cause widespread socio-economic and environmental impacts. Recent predictions suggest that drought frequency and intensity will increase in Southern Africa; therefore, there is a need for more scientific information on drought impacts and responses by vulnerable groups such as smallholder farmers. This scoping review examines the current state of research and conceptual insights on the impacts of drought on and responses by smallholder farmers in rural and urban settings in South Africa. We used three bibliographic databases (Scopus, Web of Science, and EBSCOHost) to search for peer-reviewed literature published on South Africa. In total, 18 articles were reviewed, and information on drought impacts and responses among smallholder farmers was analysed and synthesised. Although most of the reviewed papers identified several socio-economic (e.g., loss of livestock, income, and employment) and environmental (e.g., loss of grazing land and vegetation) impacts of drought, the identified impacts were rarely quantified, and there is a lack of analytical depth of these impacts. Smallholder farmers in South Africa implement several drought responses, and these were categorised based on (i) changes in local practices and lifestyles e.g., practising conservation agriculture, (ii) structural measures e.g., government relief programmes, and (iii) technical interventions e.g., rain harvesting. None of the reviewed papers reported on the impacts of and responses to drought on smallholder farmers in urban settings. Overall, the review noted that the literature on drought in South Africa lacks detailed quantification and analysis of drought impacts and responses, the urban drought context is poorly understood, and there is a lack of clarity on the distinction between adaptation and mitigation strategies. Improving our understanding of drought impacts across a rural-urban gradient is important if responses are to effectively reduce smallholder farmer drought vulnerability. Full article
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