Southern African conservation projects and their impacts on local people's drought adaptation strategies
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This research explores the relationship between two increasingly central concepts of sustainability: drought adaptation strategies and conservation projects. Despite their importance, till time no attempt has been made of bridging them. Current research does so by asking how can conservation projects address local drought adaptation strategies in southern Africa. This question is answered through multiple stages. First, an extensive literature review was conducted in order to find out what drought adaptation strategies do local communities employ. Then, a meta-synthesis, containing more than 500 academic papers was employed in order to discover the different impacts conservation projects have on the local livelihood. These multi-dimensional impacts were spatially visualized with data-analysis and GIS mapping. Both the drought adaptation strategies and the conservation projects’ impacts were categorized into the seven community capitals: natural, human, social, financial, built, cultural, and political capitals. The categorization illustrated that drought adaptation strategies are primarily based on the social and political capitals, while conservation projects can enhance financial and human capital the most and primarily depreciate the social and political ones. With the help of this categorization, the potential impacts of conservation projects on the drought adaptation strategies were explored. It is understood that the identified impacts are not static and set in stone, therefore with adequate management they can be steered towards addressing drought adaptation strategies in the most advantageous way. To do so, the research concludes with the following five suggestions for policy makers: increase local power, ensure fair benefit distribution, safeguard the inevitable livelihood transition, channel financial capital into reducing drought vulnerability, and avoid displacement.