Research on the agricultural impacts of global change frequently emphasizesthe physical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change, yet globalchanges associated with the internationalization of economic activity mayalso have significant impacts on food systems. Together, climate change andglobalization are exposing farmers to new and unfamiliar conditions.Although some farmers may be in a position to take advantage of thesechanges, many more are facing increased vulnerability, particularly in thedeveloping world. This paper considers the dynamics of agriculturalvulnerability to global change through the example of southern Africa. Wedemonstrate that the combination of global and national economic changesis altering the context under which southern African farmers cope withclimate variability and adapt to long-term change. We find that farmers whoformerly had difficulty adapting to climatic variability may become lessvulnerable to drought-related food shortages as the result of tradeliberalization. At the same time, however, removal of national credit andsubsidies may constrain or limit adaptation strategies of other farmers,leaving them more vulnerable to climate variability and change.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aboum-Ongaro, W.: 1999, 'Agriculture, policy impacts and the road ahead', in Kayizzi-Mugerwa, S. (ed.), The African Economy: Policy, Institutions and the Future, NewYork, Routledge, pp. 248–263.
Adger, N.: 1999, 'Social vulnerability to climate change and extremes in coastal Vietnam', World Devel. 27, 249–269.
Adger, N. and Kelly, M.: 1999, 'Social vulnerability to climate change and the architecture of entitlements', Miti. Adap. Strat. Gl. Change 4, 253–266.
Agnew, J. and Grant, R.: 1998, 'Falling out of the world economy? Theorizing 'Africa' in world trade', in R. Lee and J. Wills (eds.), Geographies of Economies, London, Arnold.
Bigsten, A.: 1999, 'Looking for African tigers', in S. Kayizzi-Mugerwa (ed.), The African Economy: Policy, Institutions and the Future, New York, Routledge.
Bohle, H.G., Downing, T.E. and Watts, M.J.: 1994, 'Climate change and social vulnerability', Gl.Envir. Change 4(1), 37–48.
Castells, M.: 1998, End of Millenium, Malden, MA, Blackwell.
Collier, P., Greenaway, D. and Gunning, J.W.: 1997, 'Evaluating trade liberalization: A methodological framework', in A. Oyejide, I. Elbadawi and P. Collier (eds.), Regional Integration and Trade Liberalization in Sub-Saharan Africa, New York, St. Martin's Press, Inc.
Comfort, L., Wisner, B., Cutter, S., Pulwarty, R. et al.: 1999, 'Reframing disaster policy: the global evolution of vulnerable communities', Envir. Hazards 1, 39–44.
DeRosa, D.A.: 1997, 'Regional integration and the bias against agriculture and “disadvantaged” sectors in sub-Saharan Africa', in A. Oyejide, I. Elbadawi and P. Collier (eds.), Regional Integration and Trade Liberalization in Sub-Saharan Africa, New York, St. Martin's Press, Inc., pp. 256–305.
Dershem, L. and Gzirishvili, D.: 1998, 'Informal social support networks and household vulnerability: Empirical findings from Georgia', World Devel. 26, 1827–1838.
Dilley, M.: 2000, 'Reducing vulnerability to climate variability in southern Africa: the growing role of climate information', Climatic Change 45, 63–73.
Dixie, G.: 1999, 'Summer citrus: The role and prospects for Southern Africa', in S. Jafee (ed.), Southern African Agribusiness: Gaining through Regional Collaboration World Bank Technical Paper No. 424, Washington, D.C., The World Bank, pp. 88–138.
Dow, K.: 1992, 'Exploring differences in our common futures(s): The meaning of vulnerability to global environmental change', Geoforum 23, 417–436.
Downing, T.E.: 1991, 'Vulnerability to hunger in Africa: a climate change perspective', Gl. Envir.Change 1(5), 365–380.
Downing, T.E., Ringius, L., Hulme, M. and Waughray, D.: 1997, 'Adapting to climate change inAfrica', Miti. Adapt. Strat. for Global Change 2, 19–44.
Easterly, W.: 1996, 'Why is Africa marginal in the world economy?', in G. Maasdorp (ed.), Can South and Southern Africa Become Global Competitive Economies?, New York, St. Martin's Press, pp. 19–30.
Edoho, F.M.: 1997, 'Overview: Africa in the age of globalization and the new world order', in F.M. Edoho (ed.), Globalization and the New World Order: Promises, Problems and Prospects for Africa in the Twenty-First Century, Westport, CT, Praeger, pp. 1–25.
Fauvel, P.: 2000, 'Mozambique: Growth with poverty', Africa Recovery 14(3), 12–19.
Glewwe, P. and Hall, G.: 1998, 'Are some groups more vulnerable to macroeconomic shocks than others? Hypothesis tests based on panel data from Peru', J. Devel. Econ. 56, 181–206.
Handmer, J.W., Dovers, S. and Downing, T.E.: 1999, 'Societal vulnerability to climate change and variability', Miti. Adapt. Strat. for Global Change 4, 267–281.
Harsch, E.: 1999, 'Africa, Asia and anxieties about globalization', Rev. Afr. Polit. Econ. 26(79), 117–123.
Henninger, N.: 1998, Mapping and Geographic Analysis of Human Welfare and Poverty — Review and Assessment, Washington, D.C., World Resources Institute.
Hernandez-Cata, E.: 1999, 'Sub-Saharan Africa: Economic policy and outlook for growth', Finance and Devel. 36(1), 10–12.
Hulme, M. (ed.): 1996, Climate Change and Southern Africa: An Exploration of Some Potential Impacts and Implications in the SADC Region, WWF International and Climate Research Unit, UEA, Norwich, UK.
Jacques, G. (ed.): 1997, Structural Adjustment and the Poverty Principle in Africa, Brookfield, VT, Ashgate Publishing.
Jayne, T.S. and Jones, S.: 1997, 'Food marketing and pricing policy in eastern and southern Africa: A survey', World Devel. 25(9), 1505–1527.
Liverman, D.M.: 1990, 'Drought impacts in Mexico: Climate, agriculture, technology, and land tenure in Sonora and Puebla', Ann. Assoc. Am. Geogr. 80(49–72).
Liverman, D.M.: 1994, 'Vulnerability to global environmental change', in S.L. Cutter (ed.), Environmental Risks and Hazards, New Jersey, Prentice Hall.
Malter, A., Reijtenbagh, A. and Jaffee, S.: 1999, 'Profits from petals: The development of cut flower exports in southern Africa', in S. Jaffee, S. (ed.), Southern African Agribusiness: Gaining through Regional Collaboration World Bank Technical Paper No. 424, Washington, D.C., The World Bank, pp. 39–87.
Marquette, C.M.: 1997, 'Current poverty, structural adjustment, and drought in Zimbabwe', World Devel. 25(7), 1141–1149.
McLaughlin, M.M.: 1996, 'Food security in a globalizing economy', Development 1996(4), 51–55.
McMichael, P.: 1994, 'Introduction: Agro-food system restructuring — Unity in diversity', in P. McMichael (ed.), The Global Restructuring of Agro-Food Systems, Ithaca, Cornell UniversityPress, pp. 1–17.
Mittelman, J.H.: 1994, 'The globalization challenge: Surviving at the margins', Third World Quart. 15(3), 427–443.
Mkandawire, T. and Soludo, C.: 1999, Our Continent, Our Future: African Perspectives on Structural Adjustment, Trenton, NJ, Africa World Press.
Moser, C.O.N.: 1998, 'The asset vulnerability framework: Reassessing urban poverty reduction strategies', World Devel. 26(1), 1–19.
NOAA Office of Global Programs: 1999, An Experiment in the Application of Climate Forecasts: NOAA-OGP Activities Related to the 1997—98 El Niño Event. Office of Global Programs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, January 1999.
O'Brien, K.L. and Leichenko, R.M.: 2000, 'Double exposure: Assessing the impacts of climatechange within the context of economic globalization', Global Envir. Change, 10, 221–232.
O'Brien, K.L., Sygna, L, Næss, L.O., Kingamkono, R. and Hochobeb, B.: 2000, Is Information Enough? User Responses to Seasonal Climate Forecasts in southern Africa, CICERO Report 2000:3, CICERO, University of Oslo, Norway.
O'Brien, K.L. and Vogel, C.H (eds.): 2001. Coping with Climate Variability: User Responses to Seasonal Climate Forecasts in Southern Africa, Brookfield, VT, Ashgate Publishing (Forthcoming).
Onafowora, O. and Owoye, O.: 1998, 'Can trade liberalization stimulate economic growth in Africa?', World Devel. 26(3), 497–506.
Parry, M.: 1990, Climate Change and World Agriculture, London, Earthscan Publications Limited.
Ramachandran, M. and Eastman, J.R.: 1997, 'Applications of GIS to vulnerability mapping: A west African food security case study', in Applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technology in Environmental Risk Assessment and Management, UNEP and the Clark Labs for Cartographic Technology and Geographic Analysis.
Reilly, J.M. and Schimmelpfenning, D.: 1999, 'Agricultural impact assessment, vulnerability, and the scope for adaptation', Clim. Change 42, 745–748.
Ribot, J.C., Magalhães, A.R. and Panagides, S.S. (eds.): 1996, Climate Variability, Climate Change and Social Vulnerability in the Semi-arid Tropics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Sidaway, J. and Gibb, R.: 1998, 'SADC, COMESA, SACU: Contradictory formats for regional integration in southern Africa?', in D. Simon, (ed.), South Africa in Southern Africa: Reconfiguring the Region, Oxford, James Currey Ltd.
Sivakumar, M.V.K.: 1998, 'Climate variability and food vulnerability', Global Change Newsl. (IGBP) 35, 14–17.
Stern, P.C. and Easterling, W.E.: 1998, Making Climate Forecasts Matter, Panel on the Human Dimensions of Seasonal-to-Interannual Climate Variability, National Research Council, Washington D.C., National Academy Press.
Teklu, T.: 1992, 'Household responses to declining food entitlement: The experience in western Sudan', Quart. J. Int. Agric. 31(3), 247–261.
Topouzis, D. and du Guerny, J.: 1999, Sustainable Agricultural/Rural Development and Vulnerability to the AIDS Epidemic, Geneva, UNAIDS.
UNEP: 2000, Climate Change Vulnerability: Linking Impacts and Adaptation, United Nations Environment Programme, with: Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK; Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, Dhaka, Bangladesh; Adaptation and Impacts Research Group, Environment Canada; Sustainable Development Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada; Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Washington, D. C.,U.S.A.; and ENDA, Dakar, Senegal.
Watson, R.T., Zinyowera, M.C., Moss, R.H. and Dokken, D.J.: 1996, Climate Change 1995: Impacts, Adaptations and Mitigation of Climate Change: Scientific-Technical Analyses, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Watts, M. and Goodman, D. (eds.): 1997, Globalising Food: Agrarian Questions and Global Restructuring, London, Routledge.
Webb, P. and Reardon, T.: 1992, 'Drought impact and household response in east and west Africa', Quart. J. Int. Agric. 31(3), 230–246.
Wilbanks, T. and Kates, R.W.: 1999, 'Global change in local places: How scale matters', Clim.Change 43, 601–628.
World Bank: 1999, World Development Indicators, Washington, D. C., The World Bank.
World Bank: 2000a, World Bank African Development Indicators 2000, Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.
World Bank: 2000b, World Bank Development Indicators Database (http://simaext.worldbank.org/data-query/).
World Bank: 2000c, Can Africa Claim the 21st Century? Washington, D.C., The World Bank.
About this article
Cite this article
Leichenko, R.M., O'Brien, K.L. The Dynamics of Rural Vulnerability to Global Change: The Case of southern Africa. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 7, 1–18 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015860421954
- climatic change
- economic globalization