Climate, change and insecurity: Views from a Gisu hillside

Terry, G (2011) Climate, change and insecurity: Views from a Gisu hillside. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

In this study I investigate the significance of climate variability and extremes (and by analogy, climate change) for human security in an African context of multiple risks, shocks and stresses. I consider the sociocultural dynamics of people’s responses to these diverse threats and their implications for climate adaptation. The location is a poor hillside village in Uganda. Its Gisu inhabitants rely on subsistence farming and are exposed to climate variability and extremes as well as acute land scarcity and environmental degradation. I interviewed over 80 men and women in different structural positions and with different social identities.
Destructive rainfall destroys food crops, erodes soil and triggers landslides. Analysing these impacts helps to build understanding of the possible context-specific consequences of climate change in East African highland communities. Villagers’ ability to cope with and adapt to destructive rainfall is socially differentiated, with gender relations an important influence. The impacts of destructive rainfall contribute to a complex cycle of human insecurity, which needs to be viewed as an integrated whole. Hunger and poverty are at the core; but tensions, contestations and conflicts among differently-placed social actors are also prominent. Some of these socially-constructed threats are associated with unequal power relations and maladaptive responses to deteriorating environmental and economic conditions. The metaphor of ‘threat landscapes’ is useful for explaining differences and changes in individuals’ awareness of threats and the epistemic limitations of subjective accounts.
Responses to climate and non-climate threats alike are shaped by cultural norms, values and traditions. They can be undermined, as well as supported, by conjugal, kin and community relations and by governance institutions and actors. Sociocultural issues such as these should be at the centre of climate adaptation narratives because they are critical to adaptive capacity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of International Development
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2012 17:30
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2012 17:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/40469
DOI:

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