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Title:Drought, drought relief, and dependency among the Basarwa of Botswana
Authors:Hitchcock, R.K.ISNI
Ebert, J.I.
Morgan, R.G.
Book title:African Food Systems in Crisis. Part 1: Microperspectives
Geographic term:Botswana
food policy
Abstract:In many developing countries the separation of agriculture, pastoralism, and wild food use may be inappropriate. In this paper, an analysis of responses to drought in Botswana illustrates this contention. The Basarwa of Botswana (hunter-gatherers) employ a wide variety of means of coping with drought. Some of these strategies have become decidedly less viable in the face of increasing population and reduced land and resource availability. Foraging as a strategy is employed by virtually all groups in Botswana, not just the hunter-gathering Basarwa. At the same time, Basarwa resort to selling off livestock and eating their seed stocks in times of stress. In this context, it is difficult to apply a rigid taxonomy of responses according to type of adaptation. Pastoralists forage, hunter-gatherers enter the wage labour market, and agriculturalists sell off their stock. These societies, by their effects on the environment, have increased their own vulnerability to seasonal and longer-term rainfall shortages as well as to the incidence of drought itself. Government relief efforts involve a danger of making rural populations overly dependent upon famine relief with levels of employment and food production declining as a result. The author argues that immediate issues facing decisionmakers in Botswana are centred around the process of assisting a transition of sources of livelihood which derive primarily from State assistance to those of self-sustaining nature. Bibliogr., note.