Browse by Theme: Livelihoods

With agriculture providing about 70% of Uganda’s export earnings and the primary economic activity for much of its population, livelihoods are particularly sensitive to the fluctuations and uncertainties of seasonal rainfall − whether premature, delayed, prolonged or failed.

The Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment recognises climate as ‘not only a natural resource, but a key determinant of the status of other natural resources’.

The Ugandan government is also concerned about climate variability to the extent that it has listed climate change as a key factor to consider in the country’s development.

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Research by the New Economics Foundation and CARE International in Garissa, Kenya, has found that investing in community-based adaptation makes strong economic sense, even in volatile environments. According to the research, investing $1 in adaptation generates between $1.45 and $3.03 of wealth for communities. And the costs of intervention were 2.6 times lower on average than the costs of not addressing climate change and extreme weather events.

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Pastoral areas in the Horn of Africa are frequently seen as a region of poverty and constant crisis, where repeated rain failures leave millions of people dependent on food aid. The long-term erosion of pastoralists’ resilience is ascribed to various causes: a degraded range, the loss of key grazing lands, increasing population pressure and conflict. But pastoralism is also a modern industry, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars each year from a thriving international trade, creating an increasingly commercialised livestock-owning class coexist-ing with an ever poorer majority.

This presents a dual challenge. How can this vital economic sector be supported, at the same time as sup-porting the majority of pastoralists to remain independent, with resilient livelihoods?

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Mariamo Amade is a 35 year old woman. She and her husband are from the Gelo-Sede community, Angoche district, a community on the northern coast of Mozambique. The main livelihoods in the community are fishing and farming and the main crops produced are cassava and beans. Mariamo and her husband, as well as many of their neighbours, were victims of the cyclone Jokwe which affected many communities in Angoche district, in March 2008.

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There has been a steady flow of people from Nepal and Bangladesh to India in recent decades in search of better work and livelihood opportunities. As they move to and fro, many face harassment, discrimination and violence. Many face these challenges during their journeys – particularly when they cross borders – at their destinations, and when they go home. Their experiences are affected by gender, country of origin and the process of recruitment to migration.

Key points:

  • Most migrants experience violence, exclusion and harassment at transit, destination and, to lesser degrees, at home
  • Their gender and origin influence the degree of harassment and violence, with female Bangladeshi migrants facing disproportionate risks
  • It is vital to sensitise health staff, police, employers and landlords at destination on migrants’ rights
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In Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands, livelihoods are dominated by pastoralism. Pastoral communities are accustomed to dealing with drought and erratic rainfall and have traditionally utilized systems and practices that minimized the impact of climate-related shocks to their livelihoods. Recently however, the impacts of climate change have combined with other environmental, economic and political factors to create a situation of increasing vulnerability for poor and marginalized households.

The situation is particularly serious for women, who face additional social, cultural and political constraints to resource access and adaptive decision-making. In response, some households have transitioned into an agro-pastoral way of life, combining the traditional livestock rearing with crop production and other economic activities. While this shift represents an innovation for these communities, it has also
exposed them to new risks and a different set of challenges in securing their livelihoods.

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A snapshot of the climate change impact on the Munyo Yaya community.

Abdi Turura is a 56 year old man from the Munyo Yaya (commonly referred to as Munyo) ethnic group in Balich, a settlement 45kms north of Garissa town in Northern Kenya. He is married to three wives and has 17 children, 8 sons and 9 daughters. Abdi lives with his family on Baad farm, a ‘community’ farm owned by a group of 47 members (10 women and 37 men).

The community has traditionally relied on small scale rain fed agriculture for subsistence. ‘However, now times have changed’ points out Abdi, ‘we used to have two planting seasons in a year, we call it ‘ganna’ and ‘hagaya’ (long and short rain seasons respectively). This has recently changed to either one season or none at all in a year.’

With the change in the rainfall patterns, it has become difficult for the Munyo community to practice rain fed agriculture.

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