Rangeland Management in Botswana

Drought occurs, on average, once every 7 years in Botswana. As elsewhere in Africa, drought has been a common cause of food insecurity. Two studies highlight the confluence of drought and the political economy.

Was the 1979 to 1987 drought more severe than preceding dry periods? Years after the 1979 to 1987 drought in Botswana, the government had not withdrawn relief to many areas and had in some areas expanded relief efforts. Solway (1994) argues that non-meteorological factors are critical to the failure of much of rural Botswana to return to "normal" after 1987. The differential effects of drought—the distribution of both benefits and disadvantages among various classes, races, and among men, women, and children—cannot be sought solely in meteorological factors.

The drought made legitimate a shift of dependency from the extended family to the state and subsequently a greater dependency on the state. Traditional patterns of food security, which permitted semi-independent production on the part of the poorer majority, were significantly eroded during the drought. They have not been revived. In the case of Kalahari villagers, access to draft animals through a chain of entitlements based on kinship relations was replaced by state social security introduced during the drought and then maintained. This shift in dependency was favored by the rural elite, who saw an opportunity to consolidate wealth with the commo-dification of agriculture and privatization of production occurring in rural Botswana. This shift was also supported by the government, which viewed traditional patron-

724 HOUSEHOLD FOOD SECURITY AND COPING WITH CLIMATIC VARIABILITY TABLE 1 Agroclimatic Zones in Kenya"

Zone

R/E0 (%)

Growing Season (days)

Dry Matter (mt/ha)

Population Density (km2)

I

>80

365

>30

333

II

65-80

290-365

20-30

468

III

50-65

235-290

12-20

Major Crops

Food

Commercial

IV 40-50 180-235

V 25^0 110-180

<110

7-12

Beans, maize, potato

Beans, maize, potato

Beans, cassava, cow peas, green grams, maize, pigeon peas, sorghum, millet

Beans, cassava, cow peas, green grams, maize, pigeon peas, sorghum, millet Millet, sorghum

Coffee, dairy, tea Dairy, coffee

Cotton, fruit, tobacco

Cotton, fruit, sunflower, tobacco

Cotton, livestock, sisal, sunflower

Livestock, sisal

"R/Eq is the ratio of rainfall to potential evaporation. Population density is for 1979.

Source: Sombroek et al. (1982), Downing, Lezberg et al. (1989b) and Jaetzold and Schmidt (1983).

client relations as "backward" and favored "an ideal of individualized nuclear family production units which functioned independently of one another but in conjunction with the state" (Solway, 1994, p. 491). It brought the rural sector in line with modern systems of taxation, land registration, and government regulation.

With the introduction of "welfare" and the loss of access to the local means of production, poorer rural residents were no longer able to farm, and overall rural agricultural production dropped, despite the fact that bumper harvests were reported in several villages during the study period. Falling production statistics provided further "evidence" for the severity of the drought and justified the further expansion of government relief programs.

In Solway's conceptualization, the drought was a revelatory crisis, arising from "structural contradictions" between traditional and modern, bringing latent societal tensions to the surface, and providing a context for the accelerated change of the bases of social reproduction. These structural contradictions were simultaneously

TABLE 2 Sources of Household Income during the 1984 Drought in Kenya

Agrochemical Zone

TABLE 2 Sources of Household Income during the 1984 Drought in Kenya

Agrochemical Zone

Income Source

I

II

III

IV

V

Total

Farm produce

90"

71

50

67

50

62

98

113

68

28

28

65

Livestock

14

17

14

19

57

29

100

118

164

200

107

88

Agricultural casual labor

27

25

31

35

31

31

85

96

94

97

68

87

Nonagricultural casual labor

20

10

18

25

37

23

100

100

89

84

81

87

Businesses

10

14

15

12

22

15

70

57

100

125

91

93

Remittances

35

25

41

46

41

39

86

100

90

109

95

97

Permanent employment

24

24

32

29

35

30

92

79

106

107

83

97

"The first number in each cell is the percent of households for whom the income source is a usual source of income. The second number is the ratio (in percent) of households who had the income source during the 1984 drought (April to December 1984) compared to the number of households who had it as a usual source. Thus over all of the zones, 62% of the households usually have farm produce as a source of (cash) income. During the drought months, only 65% of these households had income from their farm produce. Source: Anyango et al. (1989).

"The first number in each cell is the percent of households for whom the income source is a usual source of income. The second number is the ratio (in percent) of households who had the income source during the 1984 drought (April to December 1984) compared to the number of households who had it as a usual source. Thus over all of the zones, 62% of the households usually have farm produce as a source of (cash) income. During the drought months, only 65% of these households had income from their farm produce. Source: Anyango et al. (1989).

revealed and concealed during the drought; the discourse of crisis allowed them to be hidden from view by claims that "exceptional" circumstances prevailed. Discourse here served a dual purpose: Not only did it obscure deeper processes at work, it also impelled and made legitimate innovation with normative codes and regulatory, management, and institutional frameworks.

Other research in the Kalahari area of Botswana, investigating the effects of the 1975 tribal grazing lands policy (TGLP), also notes the importance of the social and political dimensions to food security (Thomas and Sporton, 1997b). Studies focused on three areas: study area 1 in eastern Kalahari with tree and bush savannah, study area 2 in Ncojane with dryer bush savannah, and study area 3 in Tshabong, the driest area of arid shrub savannah. It was found that the areas with the most flexible approaches to the TGLP were best able to overcome impacts of environmental variability, notably the drought of 1994 to 1995. The adaptive strategies listed in Table 3 were only possible if some elements of the TGLP, such as fencing of ranches, were not enforced. Study area 2, therefore, enjoyed better livelihood security than study area 1, where TGLP was applied most rigorously, despite the fact that on ecological grounds area 1 offered better opportunities.

The style of management and relationship between ranch lessees and workers also has a major effect on food security. Study area 2 had a more participatory, flexible management style, which minimized hardship (see Box 3).

TABLE 3 Adaptive Strategies Employed in Study Area 2

By livestock holders/ranch lessees

Fences dropped between ranches/paddocks to increase grazing range Temporary removal of livestock to distant cattleposts Pooling of resources with neighboring lessees By ranch residents/other rural groups

Settlement on (temporarily) abandoned ranches Gathering (and hunting) across neighboring ranches

Move residence to ranch nearest to service center, where drought relief may be available Source: Thomas and Sporton 1997b.

Box 3. Perceptions of Food Security

Interview from study area 1 (male in his fifties):

"I don't get any food rations from the owner. I just wake up hungry every morning. I help myself live by milking the cows and drinking the milk. I don't know why the owner of the ranch is treating me this way. I don't know if he hates me because of my ethnic group, because I'm a Moswara... When I was a young man I used to be satisfied every day ... But now that I am working for someone I don't eat at all."

Interview from other study area 2 (male in his fifties):

"I came here to look after the ranch-owner's cattle. I'm not paid for doing the work. He doesn't pay me, he just buys me food. Not being paid is not a big problem. I'm OK as things are. When I need something I just tell the ranch owner and he buys it for me.. .The owner is a good man I'm happy to work for him."

Source: Thomas and Sporton (1997a).

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