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Linking land functions to household vulnerability in food security in a semiarid savanna system

Authors: Steele Olsen, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Forrest Stevens*, University of Louisville, Andrea Gaughan, University of Louisville, Narcisa Pricope, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Jonathan Salerno, Colorado State University, Joel Hartter, University of Colorado Boulder, Lin Cassidy, Lin Cassidy Consulting, Michael Drake, University of Colorado Boulder, Ariel Weaver, University of Louisville, Nicholas Kolarik, Boise State University, Amelia Bradshaw, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Kyle Woodward, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Africa, Sustainability Science
Keywords: livelihoods, vulnerability, food security, remote sensing, data fusion, savanna, drylands, Southern Africa
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The intersection of land uses with environmental variability and its effects on vegetation productivity and agricultural outcomes represents a significant source of exposure for households that are heavily dependent on agriculture, grazing, and natural resource gathering. Land uses interact with land cover in multifaceted ways, producing land functions that households are exposed and sensitive to. Our research quantifies spatial and temporal aspects of that intersection with household vulnerability reflected in their food security. This vulnerability is mediated by access to various livelihood capitals. We use a generalized model of household vulnerability, organized under a socio-ecological systems framework, and operationalize it using a combination of multispectral and multitemporal analyses of remotely-sensed data merged with data from 721 household surveys. These surveys were conducted in communities in Namibia, Botswana, and Zambia, and are contained within the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area of southern Africa. Using this model we show how estimates of vegetation structure, composition, and dynamics from different resource sheds may link to variation in food security at the household level, after taking into account household-, community-, and country-level factors that may mediate food insecurities.

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