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Envisioning the future in the light of climatic and non-climatic riskscapes: lessons from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Eromose E. Ebhuoma*, Llewellyn Leonard, Michael Gebreslasie

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ABSTRACT: The concept of 'Riskscape' serves as a proactive framework intertwining risk, geographical space, and human practices. It sheds light on how diverse stakeholders perceive phenomena and take action to navigate the future and address emerging risks. This study applies the riskscape concept to comprehend the impact of climate change, coupled with non-climatic risks, on vulnerable households in KwaMaye village, rural KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. The research also explores how local farmers envision their future amidst the prevailing conditions. Qualitative methods were employed to gather primary data from purposefully selected participants in KwaMaye. The findings reveal that climatic risks contributing to households' vulnerability include droughts, heavy rainfall, and flooding, among other factors. Non-climatic risks emanate from issues such as an increasing livestock population, diminishing grazing fields, and delays in provincial government assistance. The convergence of climatic and non-climatic risks forms riskscapes that significantly impede most households' ability to engage effectively in livestock and food production. This is partly due to the lack of nutritious pastures during droughts. In response to the scarcity of nutritious pastures during extreme droughts, resource-constrained farmers resort to illegally accessing nearby commercial irrigated farmlands for their livestock to forage. However, this action carries a substantial fine if caught. Despite the challenges, respondents’ express reluctance to reduce their livestock numbers in the face of frequent droughts. However, many argue that they may be compelled to abandon food production if the issues related to these riskscapes are not promptly addressed.