The socio-economic effects of drought and human response : the case of Monze district, 1970-2003

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Chifuwe, Eucress
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Drought has been one of the world's greatest mysteries, and it continues to have many puzzling features. It has been a part of our environment since the beginning of recorded history and humanity's survival may be testimony only to its capacity to endure this climatic phenomenon. Recent droughts in Africa have drawn so much attention of the whole world because of unexpected resultant socio- economic consequences. In Zambia drought has affected a substantial part of the country which has brought about a greater awareness of our dependence upon and the need to conserve water. Monze district is one of the areas that are seriously hit by drought in Southern province, where there are massive crop failures and livestock losses. It is hoped that local communities will seriously embark on other possible adaptive responses to the chronic phenomenon because it costs the district lots of money and man-hours meant for serious development programmes. The knowledge obtained would be useful to planning authorities especially in agricultural and water supply sectors. The objectives of this study were to (a) assess the socio-economic effects of droughts; (b) determine the range of responses to drought by social groups in the study wards; (c) assess the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in helping local communities through drought related mitigation strategies; (d) assess the impacts of food for work projects on the community livelihood systems in the study wards. The methods of data collection were open-ended questionnaires for households and local authorities; focus group discussions; and desk research from government departments and non-governmental organizations. Primary data were obtained from households and non-governmental organizations using questionnaires and through Focus Group Discussions (FGSs). Rainfall data were from meteorological office monitoring stations for 1970-2003, Data for livestock sales and cattle mortality were obtained from Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Monze district annual reports for 1980-2003. Other secondary data were from NGOs and Monze Diocese annual reports for 1992-2003. Using time series, correlation and drought severity index, several meteorological and agricultural droughts parameters were analysed. Statistical analysis was performed in order to infer some properties of the population and rainfall series for drought assessment. The analysis of precipitation data revealed that Monze has a history of recurring drought. A detailed examination of the effects of droughts in study wards indicates that the economic sector affected is agriculture, particularly subsistence crop and livestock production. The loss of livestock due to deaths and enforced sales revealed between 1980 and 2003 was a huge burden to be carried by an already weak rural economy. An analysis of time series showed that livestock sales reduced while cattle mortality increased in years of droughts. Correlation analysis indicates that there is insignificant relationship between annual rainfall and cattle mortality. Because of the devastating effects of droughts of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, households responses were characterized by increased reliance on government, donors and non-governmental organizations in form of drought relief. The positive effects of the recent droughts in IV Monze district were the food for work projects which were self-help schemes that benefited entire communities. It is concluded that droughts have had a long-term effects in Monze district because vital long-term agricultural capital for peasant farmers, particularly draught animals were lost. Also, a more complete understanding of local responses to risk in drought conditions is clearly essential if more effective drought relief and mitigation strategies are to be designed. Much emphasis has been laid on short-term measures thus neglecting long-term ones which are more effective in containing drought. Some possible solutions to problems of drought in Monze district are proposed.
Droughts -- Monze -- Zambia--Droughts -- , Economics -- Social aspects -- Monze -- Zambia , Human ecology -- Monze -- Zambia