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Managing the impacts of drought: The role of cultural beliefs in small-scale farmers' responses to drought in Gaza Province, southern Mozambique

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JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Aug 2019
DatePublished (current) - Dec 2019
Volume41
Number of pages11
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Drought has had a harsh impact on small-scale farmers' agricultural activities, livestock production, and well-being, so that even droughts dating back to 1947 remain memorable. These memories, experiences, and knowledge of the impacts frame farmers' awareness of the need to respond to drought, and they therefore implement an array of responses collectively to tackle its causes, and individually to reduce its impacts. Farmers' collective responses, comprised of prayers or traditional rainmaking ceremonies, are directly framed by their enduring cultural beliefs of the causes of drought and appropriate responses to address them. Farmers' individual responses involve dependence on help, activities which generate income or secure immediate food needs. Cultural beliefs indirectly influence these individual responses by determining the timing and order of their implementation because farmers usually implement first collective responses. Thus, farmers tend to implement short-term, reactive coping strategies, which are often insufficient to feed their large families. Although cultural beliefs do not necessarily help farmers to adapt to drought, the enduring collective responses bind farmers together in solidarity during times of drought, since they are driven by their common need of rainfall for agricultural activities. Thus, acting as a psychological support system to deal with the causes, maintain their livelihoods, recover from the hardship and survive. Therefore, we conclude that it is important to account for these direct and indirect influences of cultural beliefs as they may affect the level of engagement, endorsement and position that farmers will (consciously or unconsciously) attribute to the implementation of drought-related adaptation strategies.

    Research areas

  • Coping, Cultural beliefs, Drought, Farmers, Prayers, Rainmaking ceremonies

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