This paper examines variation in local perceptions of risk in semi-arid Tanzania, identifying factors that influence local perceptions of problems and testing the feasibility of risk mapping as a technique. Twelve villages in six districts were visited between February and April 2001. Villagers were asked about their worries and concerns in providing for themselves and their families using a risk questionnaire. The responses were grouped into 21 categories of problem and incidence and severity indices were calculated for each category.
Most problems were associated with the availability of natural resources on which livelihoods depend but others related to human and social capital assets. In addition to environmental factors, livelihood strategy and gender both influenced perceptions of risk. Problems of irrigation and weather, for example, were important for agricultural communities while problems relating to livestock diseases, access to land and hunger were more important in pastoral communities. The risks cited by men and women generally reflected their traditional roles in society. Very broadly, the risks associated with natural capital tended to be seen as higher by men while women mentioned more problems relating to human and social capital. However, this was not always the case. Problems linked to finance, traditionally the concern of men, were ranked similarly by men and women.
In projects designed to facilitate community management and control over common pool resources, the identification of common interests is particularly important. Risk mapping can provide a cost-effective way of gaining insights to help improve research design and to inform policy development.
Quinn, C.G.; Huby, M.; Kiwasila, H.; Lovett, J.C. Local perceptions of risk to livelihood in semi-arid Tanzania. Journal of Environmental Management (2003) 68 (2) 111-119. [DOI: 10.1016/S0301-4797(03)00013-6]