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Differentiated vulnerabilities and capacities for adaptation: A case study on household adaptation to water shortage in Gaborone

Schlamovitz, Josefine Lund LU (2019) VBRM15 20191
Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety
Abstract
Provision of freshwater to urban residents remains a significant global challenge. A challenge whose impendent success in many regions is further threatened by climate change and urbanization projections, subsequently increasing the pressure on urban water supply. Employing an intersectional lens, this case study explores household implications of and responses to water shortage in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, with special attention to residents’ differentiated adaptive capacities and vulnerabilities. Informed by 58 interviews with residents and key informants, the research illustrates the intricacies of household adaptation to water shortage. The study finds that households from all socio-economic backgrounds face numerous... (More)
Provision of freshwater to urban residents remains a significant global challenge. A challenge whose impendent success in many regions is further threatened by climate change and urbanization projections, subsequently increasing the pressure on urban water supply. Employing an intersectional lens, this case study explores household implications of and responses to water shortage in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, with special attention to residents’ differentiated adaptive capacities and vulnerabilities. Informed by 58 interviews with residents and key informants, the research illustrates the intricacies of household adaptation to water shortage. The study finds that households from all socio-economic backgrounds face numerous implications vis-à-vis water shortage among others: disruption of lives and livelihoods, direct and indirect health challenges as well as social exclusion and embarrassment. To reduce exposure and impact, households engage in various coping and adaptive strategies most notably: water conservation efforts, storage, investment in structural equipment and finding alternative sources. The choice of which to engage in is however dependent on a household’s adaptive capacity and vulnerability – properties that this research finds are not uniformly distributed between the participants or within their associated social groups. Utilizing intersectionality as a heuristic device when analyzing the narratives of the participants allows for an exploration of the underlying reasons for the participants’ differentiated vulnerabilities and capacities for adaptation. It is argued that the intersection and interplay of identity markers such as gender, nationality, age and socio-economic background coupled with the contextual factors of health, caregiving, unemployment and land and housing tenure influence the adaptive capacity and vulnerability of the participants. Concludingly, the study posits intersectionality as a helpful framework, as it enables a multidimensional analysis identifying asymmetrical power relations at various levels that either enable or delimit individual agency in adaptation to water shortage. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Water shortage affects households differently in Gaborone as people’s adaptive capacity and vulnerability are not evenly distributed between the participants or within their associated social groups e.g. between the social category of ‘women’. This research examines water shortage and its implications as well as draws on the concept of intersectionality to better understand the underlying factors that are either enabling or constraining households in adapting to water shortage.
We are currently experiencing a global water crisis. Essentially this means that it is not unlikely that urban areas in the future will struggle to provide enough freshwater to meet the growing demand of their population. It is therefore increasingly important to... (More)
Water shortage affects households differently in Gaborone as people’s adaptive capacity and vulnerability are not evenly distributed between the participants or within their associated social groups e.g. between the social category of ‘women’. This research examines water shortage and its implications as well as draws on the concept of intersectionality to better understand the underlying factors that are either enabling or constraining households in adapting to water shortage.
We are currently experiencing a global water crisis. Essentially this means that it is not unlikely that urban areas in the future will struggle to provide enough freshwater to meet the growing demand of their population. It is therefore increasingly important to understand how households are adapting to water shortage at the local level if we are to develop sustainable and resilient cities. This furthermore entails that we must understand what underlying factors that are influencing whether people can engage in such measures of adaptation.
This research is situated in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital. It finds that households from different backgrounds face many implications when faced with water shortage, among others: disruption of lives and livelihoods, direct and indirect health challenges as well as social exclusion and embarrassment. To reduce exposure and impact households engage in various strategies most notably: water conservation efforts, storage, investment in structural equipment and finding alternative sources.
The choice of whether to engage and which strategies to engage in is however dependent on a household’s adaptive capacity and vulnerability – properties that this research finds are not evenly distributed between the participants or within their associated social groups. In other words, the implications of water shortage and how the participants are affected by it is influenced by several underlying factors such as gender, age, nationality, socio-economic structures as well as health, caregiving, unemployment and land- and housing tenure. Together these form power structures that can enable or constrain the participants in engaging in measures of adaptation as well as inform their vulnerability.
The findings of this research furthermore illustrate how using intersectionality as an analytical framework can help better represent complex realities. It is argued, that utilizing this approach can potentially improve our understanding on the relationship between people, their adaptive capacity and vulnerability in the context of water shortage. This, as this approach allows for an exploration of the underlying reasons for the participants’ differing vulnerabilities and capacities for adaptation. The research is informed by 58 semi-structured interviews with people living in Gaborone as well as with key informants, all of which were collected during an 8-week field study. (Less)
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author
Schlamovitz, Josefine Lund LU
supervisor
organization
course
VBRM15 20191
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Adaptive Capacity, Botswana, Climate Change Adaptation, Gaborone, Intersectionality, Vulnerability, Water Shortage.
language
English
id
8982300
date added to LUP
2019-06-13 11:25:23
date last changed
2019-06-13 11:25:23
@misc{8982300,
  abstract     = {Provision of freshwater to urban residents remains a significant global challenge. A challenge whose impendent success in many regions is further threatened by climate change and urbanization projections, subsequently increasing the pressure on urban water supply. Employing an intersectional lens, this case study explores household implications of and responses to water shortage in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, with special attention to residents’ differentiated adaptive capacities and vulnerabilities. Informed by 58 interviews with residents and key informants, the research illustrates the intricacies of household adaptation to water shortage. The study finds that households from all socio-economic backgrounds face numerous implications vis-à-vis water shortage among others: disruption of lives and livelihoods, direct and indirect health challenges as well as social exclusion and embarrassment. To reduce exposure and impact, households engage in various coping and adaptive strategies most notably: water conservation efforts, storage, investment in structural equipment and finding alternative sources. The choice of which to engage in is however dependent on a household’s adaptive capacity and vulnerability – properties that this research finds are not uniformly distributed between the participants or within their associated social groups. Utilizing intersectionality as a heuristic device when analyzing the narratives of the participants allows for an exploration of the underlying reasons for the participants’ differentiated vulnerabilities and capacities for adaptation. It is argued that the intersection and interplay of identity markers such as gender, nationality, age and socio-economic background coupled with the contextual factors of health, caregiving, unemployment and land and housing tenure influence the adaptive capacity and vulnerability of the participants. Concludingly, the study posits intersectionality as a helpful framework, as it enables a multidimensional analysis identifying asymmetrical power relations at various levels that either enable or delimit individual agency in adaptation to water shortage.},
  author       = {Schlamovitz, Josefine Lund},
  keyword      = {Adaptive Capacity,Botswana,Climate Change Adaptation,Gaborone,Intersectionality,Vulnerability,Water Shortage.},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Differentiated vulnerabilities and capacities for adaptation: A case study on household adaptation to water shortage in Gaborone},
  year         = {2019},
}