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Monday, August 31, 2009

South African Farming Sector Vulnerability

The International Food Policy Research Institute has undertaken a vulnerability mapping exercise for South Africa's farming districts. The assessment utilised an indicator approach to develop measures of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of different districts to climate variability and climate change. The report concludes that management activities should be tailored to local conditions and effort should be invested in a range of policies and measures in highly vulnerable districts:

"support the effective management of environmental resources (e.g., soil, vegetation and water resources); promote increased market participation, especially within the large subsistence farming sector; stimulate both agricultural intensification and diversification of livelihoods away from risky agriculture; and enact social programs and spending on health, education and welfare, which can help maintain and augment both physical and intangible human capital. Finally, policy makers should invest in the development of infrastructure in rural areas, while in high exposure regions, especially the coastal zones, priority should be given to the development of more accurate systems for early warning of extreme climatic events (e.g., drought or floods), as well as appropriate relief programs and agricultural insurance."
Of course, all of the above measures are probably appropriate regardless of the relative vulnerability of different districts. As such, couldn't the same policies and measures been identified without an assessment of vulnerability that may bias decision-making on the appropriate geographic distribiution of those policies and measures?

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