How geographic resource distribution impacts human livelihoods in Southern Africa

Authors: Michael Drake*, CU Boulder, Joel Hartter, University of Colorado Boulder, Andrea Gaughan, University of Louisville, Forrest Stevens, University of Louisville, Narcisa Pricope, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Topics: Africa, Natural Resources, Land Use
Keywords: Africa, natural resources,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Committee Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In many community-based conservation areas (CBCs) of Southern Africa, human livelihoods and natural resource collection are inexorably linked. Within CBCs, where unemployment is high and cash earning opportunities are limited, materials and food collected from the natural environment help buffer livelihoods from seasonal fluxes in crop production and employment opportunities. However, the relationship between livelihoods and access to a diversity of natural resources is poorly understood. In this paper, we explore this relationship with a case study in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfronteir Conservation Area, focusing on CBCs in Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia. We conducted surveys in 240 households within each CBC to assess household level livelihoods and reliance on natural resources. Using information gained from the household surveys and with the help of key informants within the community, we mapped the location of all natural resource collection areas utilized within the CBC. With these two data sets, we will explore how geographic variation in natural resource collection areas and the types of resources available affect household livelihoods and natural resource reliance. Namely, we will use metrics of the distance between households to resource areas, land cover within each collection area, and transportation options available to each household to predict the types and quantity of resources that households are able to utilize. As human populations grow throughout Southern Africa, natural resources will play an increasingly important role in maintaining livelihoods. Understanding the relationship between resource availability and use may help land managers predict areas of future human settlement and increased environmental disturbance.

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