Lütkemeier, Robert: Households at Risk : Integrated Assessment of Drought Hazard and Social Vulnerability in the Cuvelai-Basin of Angola and Namibia. - Bonn, 2018. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
Online-Ausgabe in bonndoc: https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:hbz:5n-52724
urn: https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:hbz:5n-52724,
author = {{Robert Lütkemeier}},
title = {Households at Risk : Integrated Assessment of Drought Hazard and Social Vulnerability in the Cuvelai-Basin of Angola and Namibia},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2018,
month = nov,

note = {Droughts are phenomena that occur worldwide, in humid and arid environments as well as in the Global North and the Global South. They are considered as slow onset hazards that affect more people than any other natural process with an estimated economic damage of USD 135 Billion and 12 Million casualties globally between 1900 and 2013 (Masih et al., 2014, p. 3636). Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a major drought hot-spot due to vulnerable livelihoods (e.g. dominance of rain-fed agriculture), limited capacities (e.g. financial, institutional), weak infrastructure (e.g. water, mobility) and political instability (e.g. conflicts, corruption). When droughts occur, as recently triggered by El Niño (2015/2016), vulnerability conditions of the affected societies determine, if drought risk manifests as a disaster. As a critical, recent example, the drought in Somalia resulted in a serious humanitarian disaster primarily as the precarious vulnerability situation was further deteriorated by political and violent conflicts (Maxwell et al., 2016). Overall, SSA faces severe challenges to manage drought risk, primarily due to two reasons: First, despite progress, the living conditions remain difficult with prevailing poverty, limited health services and ongoing political unrest in many regions (UNECA et al., 2015). This is alarming, especially against the projected population growth of about 1.3 Billion people in Africa until 2050 (UN-DESA, 2015, p. 3). Second, achieving good living conditions for all, as envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), is a challenge, as climate projections indicate a likely increase of drought frequency and severity in SSA. Higher rainfall variability paired with a strong increase in average temperatures (Niang et al., 2014) will render today's exceptional droughts as the new normal in the near future.
These urgent problems require sustainable solutions to improve short- and long-term adaptation. Transdisciplinary science that conflates the strengths of academic disciplines and stakeholders from politics and society is needed to develop risk reduction strategies. Under the umbrella of the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL), this thesis makes a contribution to integrated drought risk management schemes by assessing the drought hazard conditions and the societal vulnerability settings in a case study region: the Cuvelai-Basin. This transnational region across Namibia and Angola regularly experiences droughts as recently during 2012 – 2015 with hundreds of thousands of people being water and food insecure (DDRM, 2013; UN-OCHA, 2012). Environmentally, it covers a gradient from humid in the north to semi-arid conditions in the south with associated vegetation patterns. The population practices subsistence agriculture and livestock herding with tendencies of urbanization and lifestyle changes. The societal pre-conditions in both countries are heterogeneous with Angola having experienced decades of civil war until 2002 while Namibia saw continuous institutional and infrastructural development particularly after independence in 1990.
To capture the multi-layered impacts of droughts on people's livelihoods, the thesis follows an interdisciplinary approach in the sense of integrating methodologies from physical and human geography. Key questions to be answered are (i) how droughts impact on local livelihoods, (ii) how the environmental drought hazard manifests, (iii) which societal groups are most vulnerable and (iv) what are risk mitigation strategies. Based on the theory of societal relations to nature, a guideline for a social-ecological drought risk assessment is proposed and exemplarily carried out in this thesis. First, a qualitative research phase was conducted to gain system knowledge, followed by quantitative analyses of environmental parameters on the drought hazard and socio-economic variables for drought vulnerability. Finally, this data was conflated in the Household Drought Risk Index (HDRI) to gain orientation knowledge and quantify risk levels among the households in the basin. This provided transformation knowledge to develop and identify risk mitigation strategies.
The initial qualitative survey (n = 26) explored the drought impact on local livelihoods. It revealed structural insights into people's utilization of water resources and the negative impacts of drought on physical and mental health, family/community life and livelihood maintenance. Coping mechanisms were identified on multiple levels from the household level (e.g. selling of agricultural products) via the community (e.g. neighbourly support) to the governmental level (e.g. drought relief). As critical entry point for droughts, the water and food consumption patterns were identified that shape a household either more or less sensitive. The internal capital endowment (human, social, financial, physical and natural) and the infrastructural and institutional endowment of an area determine a household's ability to cope with drought. These qualitative insights culminated in the construction of the HDRI indicator that was populated with data in the subsequent research phases.
To capture the drought hazard, three common drought indicators were combined in the Blended Drought Index (BDI). This integrated drought indicator incorporates meteorological and agricultural drought characteristics that impair the population's ability to ensure food and water security. The BDI uses a copula function to combine common standardized drought indicators that describe precipitation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture and vegetation conditions. Remote sensing products were processed to analyse drought frequency, severity and duration. In this regard, the uncertainty among a range of rainfall products was evaluated to identify the product that corresponds best to local rain gauge measurements. The integrated drought hazard map indicates the north of the Etosha pan and the area along the Kunene River to be most threatened by droughts. Temporally, the BDI correlates well with millet/sorghum yield (r = 0.51) and local water consumption (r = -0.45) and outperforms conventional indicators.
The vulnerability perspective was captured using primary socio-economic data from a household survey (n = 461). The consumption patterns reveal a statistically significant switch from critical sources (e.g. wells, subsistence products) during the rainy season to more reliable sources (e.g. tap water, markets) during the dry period. Households with a high dependence on critical sources are particularly sensitive to drought. The capital endowment of households is heterogeneous, especially on a rural-urban gradient and between Namibia and Angola. Human and financial capital turned out to be important control variables in addition to the infrastructural and institutional endowment of an area. Overall, the HDRI results show that the Angolan population shows higher levels of risk, particularly caused by less developed infrastructural systems, weaker institutional capabilities and less coping capacities. Urban inhabitants follow less drought-sensitive livelihood strategies, but are still connected to drought conditions in rural areas due to family relations with obligations and benefits. Furthermore, the spatial HDRI estimates point to areas in Angola and Namibia that are both drought-threatened and vulnerable.
The thesis results indicate the following recommendations for policy and science: First, the continuous monitoring of drought patterns in the basin should consider drought indicators that go beyond precipitation metrics and incorporate people's vulnerability to develop integrated Drought Information Systems. Second, reducing the sensitivities of the population requires enhanced local water buffers via better water use efficiencies. This is true for both blue and green water flows. Water-saving irrigation schemes in combination with decentral rain- and floodwater harvesting are promising opportunities. Furthermore, centralized backup infrastructures of water supply and market systems need to be expanded. Third, local community solidarity is an important institutional backbone for the population to cope with drought and adapt to future changes. In particular rural development efforts should go beyond technological interventions and support community-building, collective-action and capacity development in water management and agricultural production to decouple livelihoods from local rainfall.},

url = {http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11811/7674}

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