Socio-ecological typologies to climate variability among pastoralists in Namwala district of Zambia: an environmental education perspective.

Thumbnail Image
Kalapula, Shepande
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The University of Zambia
Climate variability and change are likely to continue bringing new weather patterns that pastoralists are unfamiliar with in view of increasing temperatures and prolonged flood or drought conditions. Thus, a study involving one hundred and twenty pastoralists was conducted in Namwala District in the Southern part of Zambia with the aim of assessing complexities of social-ecological typologies to weather-related shocks and providing an understanding of historical and contemporary synergies in the utilisation and management of common property resources. To attain its objectives, the study employed a mixed methods approach in which both qualitative and quantitative techniques were used. The research utilized typical case sampling in which questionnaires, interviews, oral histories and transect walks were used to collect data. The study shows that pastoralists were aware of their local environment and were conscious of the ways climatic variations affected their livelihoods. Pastoralists were facing several climatic related constraints that hindered livestock production. These include livestock deaths and diseases, drought and floods, shorter rainfall season, weather variability and unpredictability and drying of surface streams. In view of these effects, the study shows that pastoralists had put up various resilient strategies that included herd mobility and splitting, capital projects, increased cash investment into the herd and diversification with mixed livestock among others. The results also reviewed that population in cattle had increased resulting into reduced area available for grazing per cow with respect to access to water and pasture. This implies that the Kafue Flats is prone to overgrazing in view of combined increased floodplain agriculture, successive droughts and influx of ‘green pasture seekers’ from outside Namwala. Furthermore, the study established that land was one of the most important resources to pastoralists despite increased individualization, particularly along the edges of the Kafue Flats. Pastoralists identified social typologies as local knowledge, networking, mutual support, mobility, innovation, labour, practices and social networks while ecological typologies were the Kafue floodplain, grass species, Kafue river, streams, lagoons, pans, and land. Thus, climate variability, altered Kafue River flow and land tenure insecurity had continued to threaten the resilience of pastoralists. The study concludes that despite pastoralists facing a number of climate variability related effects and altered flow of the Kafue River, pastoralism in Namwala had survived, demonstrating resilience, dynamic and self-adaptive behaviour. Different categories of pastoralists within similar agro-pastoral communities and households responded differently to opportunities and constraints resulting from climate variability. Hence, the study recommends the involvement of local pastoralists and provision of environmental education in all pastoral activities. It is also submitted that, rather than being replaced, customary land tenure and traditional land administration structures in rural Zambia should be adapted to local social-economic and ecological realities. Thus, environmental education in pastoral social-ecological typologies, in general, and the management of common property resources like the Kafue Flats, in particular, depends on preserving and nurturing existing social, economic and ecological components and their interactions that enable pastoralists to renew and reorganize livelihoods.
Thesis of Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Education