Vulnerability of livestock farmers in Southern Kalahari : the case of Mier in Rietfontein, South Africa
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ABSTRACT Vulnerability is now highlighted globally. Poverty has been identified as a key contributor to vulnerability but asset building increases resilience and adaptive capacity. This study examines the root causes of vulnerability and adaptive capacity of Mier pastoralists by utilizing the ‘sustainable livelihood framework’ and ‘pressure and release’ model. The Mier community fled British rule in 1865 and migrated from Cape Town to Northern Cape Province in Rietfontein, south of Kalahari Desert. A mixed methods approach was adopted by utilizing survey, interview and observation to assess the social system. Household heads were investigated to understand the distribution and access to resources that contributed to livelihood. This study revealed that vulnerability of the Mier pastoralist was a result of political and economic factors that reinforced inequalities. Poor households were more vulnerable, especially women-headed households. The main cause of vulnerability was unequal distribution of resources. Despite the effect of climate change and variability in this community, vulnerability was a human-induced phenomenon.