Understanding vulnerability and adaptation in semi-arid areas in Botswana

Understanding vulnerability and adaptation in semi-arid areas in Botswana

Climate change is impacting and will continue to impact all sectors of the economy and society. In semi-arid areas there are opportunities to adapt to climate change but currently barriers exist to realize the full potential of these opportunities.

Semi-arid areas in Botswana are characterised by high rainfall variability, frequent droughts, low soil moisture and extreme events such as flash floods which normally combine with governance shortcomings and structural inequalities to exacerbate the vulnerability of communities.

In Botswana some of the key vulnerabilities in semi-arid areas include limited institutional capacity especially at the local scale, lack of markets to sell products, lack of overarching policy on climate change, fragmented and conflicting policies, conflicting government programmes and programmes that increase dependence, reduced availability of natural resources e.g. reduced distribution of mopane worms and rivers being dammed for domestic and industrial use in Gaborone, prevalence of Foot and Mouth Disease impacting livestock production, lack of parental care of the youth, lack of opportunities for the youth, and lack of incorporation of local practices into national policies. Within this myriad of vulnerabilities women, the elderly, youth and marginalised groups are often more vulnerable than other groups.

Some approaches that are being used to adapt to climate variability and change include:

  • ploughing and planting multiple times within a season after rainfall events.
  • soil and water conservation including water harvesting
  • diversification of livelihoods including harvesting mopane worms and basketry
  • diversification of crops and livestock and the use of drought resistant crop varieties and livestock breeds5 e.g. shifting from maize to sorghum and pearl millet
  • moving livestock to alternative grazing areas
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