Linking the hydrological cycle and rural livelihoods: a case study in the Luvuvhu catchment, South Africa

Abstract

The role of the hydrological cycle in contributing to the livelihoods of rural communities is often said to be important, but clear evidence of this is rarely offered. Furthermore, where such aspects are considered, they are largely focussed on the use of water from rivers, boreholes or some form of storage (blue water).In this study, the hydrological cycle is considered in its entirety. Links between rural livelihoods, land use and the goods and services provided by the evaporation and transpiration components of the hydrological cycle (green water) are assessed through analyses of rural livelihoods in the Luvuvhu catchment, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Results highlight the importance of green water, and thus the importance of access to land and use of the natural resource base, in disaggregated rural community livelihood strategies.

Finally, we describe a methodology for linking common outputs from hydrological models to rural livelihood impacts. In this way, the potential role of land use change in disaggregated rural livelihoods can be assessed for various development scenarios, such as increases in commercial forestry and dryland agriculture.

Citation

Physics and chemistry of the Earth (2004) 29 (15-18) 1209-1217 [10.1016/j.pce.2004.09.028]

Linking the hydrological cycle and rural livelihoods: a case study in the Luvuvhu catchment, South Africa

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