Putting nature back in the water, energy, and food nexus : exploring opportunities to improve local livelihoods in the Kavango East Region in Namibia

Kasino, Romanus Immanuel (2021-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Many communities in the Kavango East Region of Namibia are dependent on ecosystem services for their livelihoods and wellbeing through several important relationships between ecosystem processes and people. Should these ecosystems be degraded and natural resources over-exploited, the livelihoods and wellbeing of these communities could be at risk. Traditional siloed development policies, which are often one-dimensional and non-consultative, are a major barrier for implementing interventions intended to enhance livelihoods. The lack of clean water, energy and sufficient food for many households necessitate more systems-based approaches that look for interactions and relationships between food, water, and energy systems. The livelihoods of rural communities like those in Mayana and Uvhungu-vhungu in the Kavango East Region of Namibia can benefit from interventions that put the emphasis on healthy ecosystems for ecosystem services that underpin many livelihoods for people living in the region. The main objective of this study was to explore whether a nexus approach could help to better understand critical water, energy and food interdependencies in the livelihood systems of the Kavango East Region. The study used a mixed-methods approach focussing on two villages: Mayana and Uvhungu-vhungu in the Kavango East Region of Namibia to explore food-water and energy interconnections. The mixed methods approach allowed the researcher to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. The study started with a document analysis and expert workshop to develop a draft conceptual model of the social-ecological system in question. Telephonic interviews, online surveys and key informant interviews were used to collect data, and a total of thirty-two respondents took part in the study. The study applied content and thematic analysis using deductive coding to analyse major themes from interviews and descriptive statistics to summarise quantitative data from surveys. The findings from the interviews and survey were used to refine the conceptual social-ecological system model of the study sites to understand some of the key interactions and relationships. The study found that the residents of the two villages are heavily dependent on the river, fertile land, and rich biodiversity for their daily livelihoods. Respondents indicated that some of the residents in the two villages are poor and do not have formal employment. Most of the residents use contaminated water directly from the river which is often far from their homesteads. Wood is the main source of energy in the two villages but has become scarce. Major interventions in the past were mostly focused on food production and did not sufficiently enhance livelihoods, while small-scale farmers lack support. Issues of inequity were found amongst residents of the two villages in terms of distributional and recognitional equity such as lack of basic services and infrastructure, lack of vocational training, lack of financial capital, limited access to the river, roles for men and women in decision-making and ownership (land and livestock), as well as a lack of consultation in relations to interventions by the government and NGOs. The study concludes that a nexus approach could be useful for understanding how to enhance development interventions. More importantly, the role of ecosystems and nature needs to be integrated into the nexus given the fundamental role nature plays in supporting local livelihoods while making sure that the environment can support future generations. The study further concludes that it is imperative to consult the residents of the two villages before implementing any new project in future, and any intervention should consider who might benefit or be further burdened by any decision.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : In die Kanvango-Oos streek van Namibië is daar landelike gemeenskappe wat volkome afhanklik van ekosisteem-dienste is vir hul oorlewing en bestaan. Indien hierdie ekosisteme verwaarloos word en afgegradeer of die natuurlike hulpbronne uitgebuit word, plaas dit hierdie gemeenskappe en mense in ‘n weerlose en benadeelde posisie. Tradisionele silo-beleide, wat meestal eendimensioneel en nie gunstig vir konsultasie is nie, is ‘n kritiese struikelblok in die weg van die verbetering en groei van lewensnoodsaakklike ingrypings. Die volslae gebrek aan skoon water, energie en genoegsame voedsel vir huisgesinne dui op die noodsaaklikheid daarvan om ‘n sistemiese benadering te gebruk om die verhoudings en interaksies in die genoemde drie sektore volledig te begryp. Dit kan waarskynlik sekere geleenthede ontsluit vir mense en ekosisteme. Die lewens van afgeleë plattelandse gemeenskappe soos Mayana en Uvhungu-vhungu kan dus ook baat by ingrepe wat die klem op gesonde ekosisteme vir ekosisteemvoorsiening verskaf. Die hoof-doelwit van die studie is om die ekosisteem se welstand te eksploreer, veral met ‘n neksus-benadering wat insig kan verleen rondom kritiese water, energie en kosafhanklikheid in die lewens-sisteme van die Kavango Oos-streek. Die studie het van ‘n gemengde-navorsingsbenadering gebruik gemaak. Die genoemde dorpies van Mayana en Uvhungu-vhungu in die Kavango-Oos streek is as gevallestudie gebruik om die kos-water-energieverbintenis te ondersoek. Dit het die navorser in staat gestel om beide kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe data te versamel. Telefoniese onderhoude, aanlyn-vraelyste en sleutel-informante is gebruik as data-insamelingstegnieke. Twee-en-dertig respondente het aan die studie deelgeneem. Die studie het inhouds- en tematiese ontleding met deduktiewe kodering gebruik om die hooftemas van onderhoude en beskrywende statistieke te isoleer vir kwalitatiewe data. Die bevindings van die dokument-ondersoek, die onderhoude en vraelys is alles aangewend om ‘n konseptuele sosioekologiese sisteem-kaart te ontiwkkel sodat die sleutel-interaksies en -verhoudings volledig begryp kon word. Die studie het bevind dat die inwoners van die twee dorpies swaar steun op die rivier, goeie grond, en ryk biodiversiteit vir hulle daaglikse lewensbehoud. Die meeste inwoners is brandarm en het geen formele werk nie. Die meeste van hulle gebruik gekontamineerde water direk uit die rivier wat ver van hulle wonings is. Hout is die hoofsaaklike bron van energie in die twee dorpies, maar het ook begin skaars raak. Groot vorige intervensies in die verlede was meestal op voedselproduksie gefokus wat nie werklik bygedra het tot lewensbehoud nie, terwyl kleinboere geen ondersteuning het nie. Ongelykhede bestaan in terme van geleenthede soos grondbesit en gesag, tov rolle vir mans en vroue, sowel as ‘n volslae gebrek rondom konsultasie met betrekking tot intervensies deur die regering en NROs. Die studie vorm die gevolgtrekking dat ‘n nexus benadering suksesvol kan wees om ontwikkelingsingrepe te ondersteun. Die belangrikste is dat die rol van ekosisteme en die natuur ingesluit moet word in die nexus, gegewe die fundamentele rol wat die natuur in die instandhouding van lewensmiddele speel, en so seker te maak dat die omgewing die toekomstige geslagte kan steun. Die studie sluit af met die herinnering dat dit krities belangrik is om die inwoners van die twee dorpies te betrek alvorens enige new projekte in die toekoms aangepak word – en daar moet ernstig besin word oor wie hierby sal baat en wie sal ly.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/123650
This item appears in the following collections: