“Is this a bad time to call?” Mobile phones, migrants (mis-)communication of climate information in Kenya
NEW! Click here to download the full presentation from Wed. 5 April, 2017 – American Association of Geographers (AAG), Boston, MA
Huge thanks to all who joined me and my fellow panelists (Peter Dannenberg; Sheila Huggins Rao; Dorothea Kleine) at the American Association for Geographers (AAG) meeting in Boston, MA. Feedback, questions and comments continue to be welcome. Please keep in touch!
Abstract: . Ethnographic fieldwork conducted with farmer groups in contrasting high and low market-access sites over the period 2012-2016 explores how household members shared (or withheld) information about climate and agricultural performance using phones or physical visits.
Phone calls were the dominant medium for information sharing, which for agricultural issues prioritised discussion of crop problems, dry spells, lack of inputs, and extreme weather events. Mobile money transfers were the most common response to reported problems with many migrants concerned and frustrated by the poor agricultural performance in the rural areas. Reliance on mobile communication and a decreasing frequency of migrants’ physical involvement in the rural home leads to migrants’ perceptions that climate-related changes are extreme and potentially costly.
Narratives of climate change and its impacts in rural Kenya must therefore be interpreted with care, since many are embedded in household narratives constituted to maintain the economic and emotional involvement of migrants in their rural homes.
MA, Major Research Paper (Institute of Environmental Sustainability): Caribou Variability and Inuit Food Security: A case study of Iqaluit and the Baffin Island Caribou herd. (Oct. 2015 – Aug. 2016)
The relationship between food security and climate change in Canada has largely been addressed in the context of large-scale agriculture-based food systems but there have been few studies considering how smaller, subsistence-based food systems are affected. Moreover, there are distinctive food security considerations for First Nations and Inuit related to the harvesting and consumption of traditional foods, which impacts the commonly considered dimensions of food security: access, availability, supply and utilization. Due to shifting away from a traditional to more modernized economy, there has been increased competition between traditional food consumption and a more westernized diet which can be conceptualized as a “nutrition transition”. However, traditional foods still make up a large proportion of people’s diets and, in combination with store-bought foods, remain integral to the contemporary Inuit food system. Climate change appears correlated with increased variability of traditional food sources such as caribou, which may be impacting local food security for First Nations communities.
This research paper sought to investigate this relationship by using a case study of the Baffin Island caribou herd, which has recently plummeted to critically low levels of abundance, and its impact on the community of Iqaluit. The research found that climate variability caused a decrease in the availability of caribou likely due to the subsequent shift in their distribution as a result of changing ability to access forage. While this created a shortage of caribou meat in Iqaluit, it can be argued that broader socioeconomic conditions such as poverty and unemployment were more pressing than environmental conditions in terms of food security determinants among those living in Iqaluit.
MA, Major Research Paper: Who profits from ecosystem services? The winners and losers of forestry PES schemes in Costa Rica and beyond. (Dec. 2014 – Aug. 2015)
Costa Rica’s National Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) program has been hailed as an example of a successful application of market-based conservation to increase forest cover. The theory and application of PES has greatly evolved since its inception in the mid-1990s, but many questions remain unanswered including the real environmental and social benefits derived from PES schemes, particularly effects on the poor and landless. Using a thorough literature review of forest cover and watershed PES case studies in Costa Rica and other countries in Latin America, this paper reveals that PES benefits have, in most cases, been beneficial as a form of income diversification for larger landowners with insignificant benefits for participants at the very bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. Suggestions for evolution of the PES framework include incorporation of greater and more diverse incentives, social and environmental targeting as well as improving awareness of PES effectiveness at the local level. More broadly, the PES framework has been useful in testing the grounds for market-based conservation with state participation while promoting a culture of sustainable ecosystem use within socioeconomic boundaries.
MA Major Research Paper (MRP): Du double usage du mécanisme REDD+ : Lutte contre le changement climatique et la pauvreté rurale. (Feb. 2014-June 2015) [= “On the twin uses of the REDD+ mechanism: Fighting climate change and alleviating poverty”]
Le fléchissement des aides publiques au développement (APD), la pauvreté rurale et l’effet amplificateur du changement climatique sont parmi les facteurs qui enferment le milieu rural dans les trappes à pauvreté. La question est de savoir si l’initiative REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) peut adresser ces trois défis à travers les revenus de la compensation des coûts
d’opportunité? Et comment? En découplant une variable environnementale (lutte contre la déforestation et la dégradation des forêts) d’une variable développementaliste (lutte contre la pauvreté), ce mémoire examine la REDD+ pro-pauvre ou d’investissement comme un outil de justice et d’éthique environnementale. La REDD+ devra permettre de lutter contre la pauvreté rurale grâce aux revenus de la compensation des coûts d’opportunité qui peuvent – être ensuite utilisés comme intrants pour des projets de lutte contre la pauvreté rurale. En s’attaquant à la pauvreté rurale, la REDD+ s’attaque à l’une des causes indirectes de la déforestation et la dégradation des forêts rurales. Mais pour atteindre ces objectifs, il faut relever certains défis notamment: l’effet rebond, l’adéquation d’échéances, le calcul des coûts d’opportunité et les défis liés à la gouvernance notamment l’incitation à la corruption.
Download the full Major Research Paperhere. For more information contact me or Maurice himself (on LinkedIn or on Twitter @lubefu2011).
Huge thanks to all who joined me and my fellow panelists (Lincoln Addison; Regina Hansda; Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt; Chris Huggins) at the American Association for Geographers (AAG) meeting in Tampa, Florida. Feedback, questions and comments continue to be welcome. Please keep in touch!
Abstract: Western Kenya has been a labour-exporting region for over a century, with many households opting to “straddle” both rural and urban contexts by deploying multilocational livelihoods that have reproduced themselves over generations. Ethnographic and historical investigations show that while this densely settled landscape (with the highest population densities in Kenya) was self-sufficient in food production up until the 1940s, for the last 70 years households and communities have relied heavily on off-farm income and reciprocity to maintain food security, thereby staving off major food crises despite environmental and socio-economic pressures. Indeed, contrary to the dominant, capitalist models of rural-urban migration and agrarian change, these household coping strategies have actually supported a continued growth in the rural population even while agricultural output has remained stagnant and land per capita dwindled. This paper draws on thirteen years of interviews and survey data from several western Kenyan communities to interrogate the role of new technologies (especially cellphones) in accelerating the ways in which migrants are (re )enrolled in rural struggles for land, labour, and food security. Multilocational livelihood strategies are significantly reshaping gender relations and household decision-making but appear to dilute and spread the scarce resources of all but the most advantaged households.
Kenya is on the frontline of changes to the global climate. Local communities report that weather is becoming more variable and less predictable.
Although many people label this “climate change”, the reasons for these changes and their impacts on already difficult, rural lives are not always obvious!
The VALUES project (full title “Global Climate Change and Kenya: Vulnerability and Adaptation of Livelihoods Under Environmental Stress“) ran from 2010-2013 and involved multiple students and multiple sites. We wanted to see what role “climatic” factors played in already complicated rural livelihoods.
Publications and findings will be uploaded soon! (watch this space)
Major Research Paper (MRP)*: Urban Agriculture as a Livelihood for Urban Poor: Opportunities, Obstacles and Policy Implications for Sub-Saharan Africa Cities. (2011 – Dec. 2014)
* Graduate School of International and Public Affairs.
Urban Agriculture (UA) serves as an essential livelihood strategy for urban households across Sub-Saharan Africa. In the context of worsened economic conditions triggered by the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) of the 1990s, and rapid urbanization witnessed over the past 20 years. The poor urban dwellers residing in the informal settlements have resorted into UA as a way to ameliorate against the growing food insecurity and to generate income to meet their other household needs such as healthcare, education and housing.
In spite of the benefits of UA to poor households, they face obstacles such as prohibitive local policies preventing access to public land the most need resource for this practice. Furthermore severe weather conditions compounded by poor infrastructure are threats to the potential of UA to meet the livelihood needs of the urban poor.
The objective of this paper is to examine the impact of UA on the poor urban households, and evaluate the extent to which urban policy makers can intervene, to ensure sustainable UA across the region. This research paper makes a contribution to the broader topic of sustainable livelihoods, which is key to Africa’s long-term development.