Table 4. Livelihood dynamics and trajectories of example case study households.


Case study household

Trajectory (through time, T) and factors leading to resilience (R) and vulnerability (V)
Case 1 – Mr. Thau, Khawa

Batlharo, aged 54, living with his wife, seven youth, and 10 additional children

Thau moved to Khawa in 1985 with his wife and young children. They moved to benefit from the government support available. This included food and schooling for the children, in particular. At this time, Thau had 25 goats, two donkeys, and a donkey cart. Once settled in Khawa, Thau’s family also started collecting veld products, making leatherworks, and brewing and selling traditional beer. In 1989, Thau’s family stopped their leatherwork activities because an expensive licence was imposed on the sale of products. This did not significantly affect the household because that year Thau became Councillor for five years. He earned 700 Pula per month. He invested much of this money in livestock. He bought two cows in 1990, and then every month he bought a goat. He also invested money in a car and a syndicate-run borehole. His wife cared for the livestock when he worked, and by 1994, he had 150 goats and 10 cows, despite some losses to wild animals (four cows killed by lions in 1992 but compensation from the Wildlife Department was granted). While Thau was working, his wife and children collected veld products to supplement their diet. In 1994 and 1995, rains fell late so no veld products were available. Thau also depended on piece jobs and drought relief work during the 1990s – e.g., between 1994 and 2002, Thau was a Member, and later Chairman of the Village Development Committee. In these roles, he received cash sitting allowances. He continued to invest his income in livestock and began paying a monthly fee to have a private water tap in his compound. In 1999, Thau’s wife died, but in 2001 he remarried the Health Clinic cleaner. In 2004, additional household income was achieved when Thau’s daughter started working as the Manager of the Co-operative Shop. In 2004, due to low rainfall and degradation around the settlement, grazing and water resources were limited. Due to his access to transport in the form of a donkey cart and car (which facilitated the transport of water and food for those caring for the livestock), Thau sent his livestock 40 km west to access an area of rangeland that had benefited from rain earlier in the season (Fig. 5). This area provided sufficient wild watermelons (Citrullus sp.) and grazing to sustain his and other household herds for up to three months during the dry season. The extra nutrients gained from these resources enabled his goats to reproduce twice in that year, leading to rapid growth in numbers.
Accumulative trajectory – building resilience

T1, 1985 – Limited assets, low capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, some collective capacity to cope through social security benefits

R1. Diversification of livelihood activities


T2, 1990s – rapid accumulation of financial, physical, and human assets, moderate capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (rainfall higher but degradation increasing), increasing individual and collective capacity to respond to crises as he became Councillor and his children got older

R2. Salaried employment
R3. Investment in livestock accumulation
R4. Investment in transport
R5. Investment in access to water


T3, 2000s – continued accumulation of financial, physical, and human assets (children gained jobs), decreasing capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, capacity to respond to agroecosystem decline high due to access to transport and private water source
 
Case 2 – Mr. Mpoelang, Khawa

Batlharo, aged 74, living with his wife, an adult son, and two children (one of whom has Down’s syndrome)

Mpoelang was one of the first settlers in Khawa in the late 1970s. At that time, the rains were so plentiful and appropriately timed that he was able to cultivate melons and beans near the settlement. He also hunted for wild meat and made leatherworks, and the household sold the leathers and dried meat (biltong) across the border into South Africa.
Fluctuating trajectory

T1, late 1970s – high capacity for agroecosystem to remain productive (high and appropriately timed rainfall, low numbers of people and livestock, and no degradation), high levels of access to natural assets (horses), moderate to high accumulation of financial or physical assets (car, livestock), moderate capacity to respond (social networks, no trade or resource-associated restrictions, no formal institutions, transport)
At that time, Mpoelang had 30 cows, 18 horses, and a car. In the mid-1980s, trade was no longer allowed across the border, and he ceased cultivation due to the drought and inappropriate timing of rainfall. In 1984, he also lost 15 cows and 18 horses to drought. In 1987, his household was not allocated a Special Game Licence, and as a consequence they were no longer able to hunt. Despite this, Mpoelang was still able to make leatherworks by purchasing skins from those who were hunting, and when the licence for selling leatherwork products was introduced, he purchased one. In the early 1990s, Mpoelang’s livestock numbers slowly began to recover. There was, however, a setback in 1993 when eight of his cows were struck by lightening. Between 2000 and 2003, Mpoelang lost an additional 11 cows to lion predation. Financial compensation from the Wildlife Department, access to pensions, and the sale of horses for cows allowed some recovery of cattle stocks. In 2000, Mr. Mpoelang’s household started to benefit from the quota system, with a small share of meat from the community-allocated hunt available for his household. In 2003, the household successfully cultivated rain-fed melons on a small scale near the house. In 2004, the household retained three horses and seven cows. The child with Down’s Syndrome did not receive support from the government. R1. Accumulation of livestock in high rainfall years
R2. Cultivation of crops in years of appropriately timed rainfall

T2, mid-1980s – low capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (prolonged drought, inappropriate timing of rainfall), limited natural assets (drought), some physical and financial asset stores (leatherworks), moderate capacity to respond (reduced from high by permits restricting hunting and by border restrictions to trade)

V1. Loss of livestock
V2. Loss of livelihood activity


T3, 1990s – moderate capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, fluctuating financial, physical, and natural assets, changing institutional support to assist household’s capacity to respond

T4, 2000s – some capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (ability to cultivate), some financial and physical assets (horses), moderate capacity to cope (trade horses for cows), high capacity to cope (access to pensions, compensation, quota meat, and pension)

R4. Diversity of livestock types (spread risks)
R5. Access to government support mechanisms to supplement livelihood activities in elder years
 
Case 3 – Mr. Bakghotu, Khawa

Bakgalagadi, aged 66, living with his wife and no children

Bakghotu first came to Khawa in 1974 with his wife. At that time he was hunting and he and his wife were making leatherworks from the skins of bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis), black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas), and springhare (Pedetes capensis). Bakghotu and his wife were making cushions and rugs and selling them to people for money. In addition, they were collecting veld products for food and wild medicines for medicine and sale. Bakghotu was also engaged in woodcrafts. Between 1980 and 1992, as a destitute, he and his wife also received a Special Game Licence, which allowed them to hunt. Also, the remote area dweller (RAD) program provided his household with food rations, clothing, and blankets. Between 1987 and 1988, Bakghotu was also employed for a short time on piece jobs. These combined activities allowed him and his wife to purchase a few livestock – goats, donkeys, and horses. Bakghotu described himself as making “a very nice living up until the changes in licences”. From 1989, Bakghotu was no longer able to sell his leatherworks without a licence, and from 1992 when the Quota Hunting Licenses were introduced, he was no longer able to hunt for himself. Even in more recent years, a licence has been introduced to prevent the sale of devil’s claw (Sengaparile – a medicinal plant), and the other veld products Bakghotu used to collect for food, medicine, and crafts are now located far from the settlement due to increased degradation. These combined restrictions have severely limited the range of activities he is able to practice for his livelihood, and with the loss of his livestock due to drought and predation, he is now dependent on the government. He relies heavily on the old-age pension and destitute rations but complained of shortages in the destitute rations and reductions in the money provided to those in need.
Degenerative trajectory – vulnerable

T1, 1974 – high capacity for agroecosystem to remain productive, high levels of access to natural assets, moderate accumulation of financial and physical assets (livestock), moderate capacity to respond (asset stock)

R1. Engagement in diverse livelihood activities


T2, 1980s – low capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, retained access to some natural assets (hunting permit), limited access to other natural assets (drought), some physical and financial asset stores, moderate capacity to respond (RAD program support)

V1. Loss of livestock


T3, 1990s – moderate capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, loss of financial and physical asset stores, loss of access to natural assets (permit changes), increasing reliance on government support

V2. Loss of livelihood activity


T4, 2000s – some capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, no asset stocks, total reliance on government support

V3. Sole reliance on government support
 
Case 4 – Mr. Mathoa, Kedia

Bakalanga, aged 51, widowed, living with three youth (two present and one absent at time of survey), and three children

Between 1976 and 1979, Mathoa worked in Orapa. At this time, he had very few livestock. In 1979, when he finished working, he invested the money he had saved into livestock, mainly cattle and goats, the digging of a well, and some cultivation. Between 1979 and 1984, the number of livestock units he owned increased from 19 to 57 due to the availability of good grazing, browse, and access to water. He also managed to accumulate land. However, between 1984 and 1994, he lost 50% of his livestock to drought, and no cultivation was possible. During this time, Mathoa gained employment with the Land Board and married a woman who was employed as a nurse at the clinic. The financial capital accumulated from both forms of employment allowed re-investment in livestock and land after 1994. By 2005, he had 15 hectares of land (12 hectares on one side of the settlement, three on the other side). The number of livestock units Mathoa accumulated peaked at 72 in 2000 after a particularly good rainfall year. Cultivation of sweet reed, maize, sorghum, watermelon, and beans was also possible that year. Food was generated for both subsistence and sale. During this period, Mathoa finished working with the Land Board and was retrained as a welder. He also received small amounts of money at this time in his role as Village Development Committee (VDC) chairman. The income generated through self-employment as a welder and from the VDC enabled him to maintain his livelihood status despite the death of his wife in 2004 and a drop in livestock units to 53 in 2005 after two successive years of below average rainfall. Some years (e.g., 2001), he was unable to harvest due to pest attack on crops.
Stable trajectory - retained resilience

T1, late 1970s–early 1980s – high capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, access to and accumulation of financial and physical assets, moderate capacity to respond to change

R1. Salaried employment
R2. Accumulation of livestock
R3. Improved access to water
R4. Accumulation of agricultural land

T2, 1984–1994 – low capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (prolonged drought and lakeside degradation), loss of some physical assets (livestock), high capacity to respond (employment, powerful social network)

V1. Loss of livestock


T3, 1994–2005 – moderate capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (some rainfall but increasing unpredictability of rainfall, degradation), accumulation of financial and physical assets, high capacity to respond (self-employment, retained and expanding social networks)

R5. Salaried employment
R6. Income generation from self-employment
R7. Re-accumulation of livestock
R8. Accumulation of agricultural land
R9. Cultivation of a range of food crops
R10. Sale of some of the harvested crop
 
Case 5 – Mr. Mmegwa, Kedia

Bakalanga, aged 76, married and living with one wife, four youth, and five children

Mr. Mmegwa worked for six years in South African mines. Between 1951 and 1975, he lived in Xhumo and Beetsao. He was a healthy man who owned land and small shops. His household used to cultivate enough to sell and managed to dig a well from the money this generated. Since their move to Kedia in 1975, they have not experienced a good harvest. Instead, livelihood activities at this time specialized in livestock farming and small amounts of hunting around the lake. Livestock units in this household peaked at 163 in 1991. Mr. Mmegwa stopped hunting around this time because he considered himself to be rich. In 1993, however, Mr. Mmegwa’s well was stolen and sold by someone else without his knowledge. This resulted in the death and/or loss of all of his livestock and the reliance on the only other livelihood activity that contributed significantly to the household at that time – his wife’s brewing and sale of alcohol. This activity protected the household livelihood from collapse, and over time, in combination with the collection and sale of medicinal plants and Mr. Mmegwa’s monthly receipt of an old-age pension, generated enough money to purchase livestock and access water once more. By 2005, the numbers of livestock in the household had reached 11 cows, 16 goats, six donkeys, two horses, and 10 chickens. Despite several of Mmegwa’s children being away from the settlement, either working or studying, none of them send remittances.
Fluctuating trajectory with shift from accumulator-diversifier strategy

T1, 1975–1991 – fluctuating capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, access to and accumulation of natural assets, high capacity to respond to change (financial and physical capital stores, social network outside settlement)

R1. Accumulation of livestock


T2, 1993 – moderate capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (some rainfall but increasingly unpredictable, degradation, lake dry), loss of access to water, moderate capacity to respond (skills and knowledge to diversify activities)

V1. Loss of livestock
R2. Diversification of livelihood activities


T3, 2005 – moderate capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (some rainfall but increasingly unpredictable, degradation, lake dry), moderate access to assets, moderate capacity to respond (diverse skills, access to government support)

R3. Reaccumulation of livestock
 
Case 6 – Mr. Baitsile, Kedia

Basarwa, aged 57, married and living with one wife, one other adult, three youth, and eight children

During the 1970s, Baitsile’s household livelihood was composed of a range of livelihood activities including fishing, hunting, cultivation, livestock farming, and veld product collection. Of greatest significance at that time was cultivation and veld product collection. In a good season, he was able to cultivate up to ten 50-kg bags of maize, ten 50-kg bags of sorghum, and eight 50-kg bags of beans, as well as plentiful supplies of pumpkin (maputse), green melon (marotse), and watermelon (moghapo). Veld products collected after rain included the fruits of Grewia species (mogwana, moretlwa/ moseme, motsotsojane) and moretologa (Ximenia americana), as well as the Mophane worm. Baitsile was able to sell some of these natural products. However, he described how in more recent time periods (1990 onwards) veld products had become increasingly scarce near the settlement due to the numbers of people collecting such resources. During the mid-1980s, Baitsile was unable to cultivate due to poor rainfall, he was no longer able to fish due to the lake drying, veld products were significantly reduced due to low rainfall, and he was no longer able to hunt due to permit changes. His livestock unit declined from 13 in 1981 to none in 1991. In 1991, the only activity that kept the household going was government-provided employment in the form of piece jobs laying water pipes. Between 1997 and 1999, Baitsile was employed by the Community Hunting Project. In 2000, after this project had ceased, the government gave Baitsile 15 cows. The number of livestock has remained similar since. In 2005, Baitsile gained employment as a night watchman at the settlement shop.
Fluctuating trajectory

T1, 1970s–early 1980s – high capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, access to and accumulation of natural and financial assets, moderate capacity to respond to change

R1. Accumulation of a variety of natural asset stocks
R2. Cultivation of range of crops
R3. Supplementary collection of wild food

T2, mid-1980s – low capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (drought, degradation, dry lake), reduced access to natural assets (permit changes, drought, dry lake), no ability to respond to change (low to no asset stocks)

V1. Loss of livelihood activity(ies)


T3, 1990s–2005 – moderate capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (some rainfall but increasingly unpredictable, degradation, lake dry), some access to natural assets, moderate capacity to respond (government support and employment)

R1. Salaried employment
R2. Re-accumulation of livestock
 
Case 7 – Mr. Charlie, Kedia

Basarwa, aged 34, married and living with one wife and two young children; lives adjacent to his sick mother and elderly stepfather

When Charlie was growing up (late 1970s–early 1980s), the family's food came from the lake. They used to eat reeds and fish. When the lake dried, life changed, and he can remember being hungry as a child. Charlie was given one cow and one goat by relatives when he started his own household, and by 2005 there were five cows and four goats. Some died that year due to a lack of water. Charlie currently lives approximately 10 km outside the center of the settlement in an area of Mopane woodland. He spends much of his time now (2005) helping his sick mother care for her livestock, collecting and preparing medicines and woodcrafts, and illegally hunting for small game. Cultivation has not been possible since 2000 due to the irregular rainfall, and even when it is possible, his household has only a small amount of land to cultivate. Charlie’s household has access to a well, which is a shared resource with other Basarwa families. His children are cared for by the government during school term time. They come home during holidays. The elder parents both receive a pension.
Diversified trajectory – increasing resilience

T1, late 1970s–early 1980s – high capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive, access to and accumulation of natural assets, low capacity to respond to change

V1. Use of wild foods (lake products)


T2, mid-1980s – low capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (drought, dry lake), reduced access to natural assets (drought, dry lake), some ability to respond to change (family support, livestock)

V2. Loss of livestock
V3. Loss of wild lake foods

T3, late 1980s–2005 – moderate capacity of agroecosystem to remain productive (some rainfall but increasingly unpredictable, degradation, lake dry), good access to natural assets (living outside settlement), high capacity to respond (diverse skills, family support, access to government support)

R1. Diversification of livelihood activities
R2. Accumulation of livestock