Assessing linkages between local ecological knowledge, HIV/AIDS and the commercialisation of natural resources across Southern Africa

Weyer, Dylan James (2011) Assessing linkages between local ecological knowledge, HIV/AIDS and the commercialisation of natural resources across Southern Africa. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

That natural resources (NRs) are important to those experiencing adversity, and, especially, vulnerability associated with HIV/AIDS, is well documented, particularly with respect to food and energy security. What is unclear is where HIV/AIDS ranks in terms of its significance in comparison to other household shocks, the role local ecological knowledge may (LEK) play in households' response to shock, a propos the types of coping strategies that are employed. Consequently, this research aims to bridge the knowledge gap between HIV/AIDS and the degree to which it is contributing to the expansion of NR commercialisation and to explore the unknowns surrounding the influence of LEK on people's choice of coping strategy. A two phase study was designed to provide quantitative rigour with qualitative depth. Phase one was an extensive, rapid survey of NR traders within urban and rural settings in five southern Africa countries. The principle objective was to profile the trade, the livelihoods of those involved and their reasons for entering the trade, to ultimately establish to what degree HIV/AIDS may have been a catalyst for this. Almost one third of the sample entered the trade in response to illness and/or death in their households, with 80% of deaths being of breadwinners. The findings illustrated considerable dependence on the sale of NRs; for almost 60% of the sample it was their household's only source of income. There was evidently increased blurring of the lines between rural and urban NR use with a greater diversity of products being traded in urban areas. Phase two involved in-depth interviews and work with a smaller sample at two sites selected based on the findings from the first phase. It incorporated three groups of households; non-trading, inexperienced trading and experienced trading households. Key areas of focus were household shocks, coping strategies employed in response to these and the role LEK may be playing in the choice of coping strategies. Within a two year period, 95% of households registered at least one shock, of which 80% recorded AIDS-related proxy shocks. Non-trading households were significantly worse-off in this regard, while in the case of non-AIDS proxy shocks, there was no such difference between groups. The most frequently employed coping strategy was the consumption and sale of NRs and was of particular importance when households were faced with AIDS proxy shocks. Trading households emerged as having superior levels of LEK in comparison to non-trading households, even for non-traded NRs, suggesting that prior LEK of NRs opened up opportunities to trade in NR as a coping strategy. Further inspection of the latter group however revealed that the portion of non-trading households who traded on a very ad hoc basis actually had comparable levels of LEK to the trading households. Despite the ad hoc trading households' vulnerable state and their disproportionately high level of AIDS proxy measures, they had at their disposal, sufficient LEK to unlock certain key coping strategies, namely the NR trade. In this sense there are apparent linkages between LEK, HIV/AIDS and the expansion of the commercialisation of NRs.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:AIDS, Southern Africa, HIV infections, Natural resources, Traditional ecological knowledge, Poverty, Ecology
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Environmental Science
Supervisors:Shackleton, C.M.
ID Code:2976
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:12 Jun 2012 11:58
Last Modified:12 Jun 2012 11:58
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