Community Resilience in Drylands and Implications for Local Development in Tigray, Ethiopia
Arid Lands Resource Sciences
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractProgress in human development is threatened by the complexities of global environmental change - a defining challenge of our time. Appropriate societal responses are needed to address disturbances and increasing vulnerability of social-ecological systems. This changing context calls current development thinking into question and requires new approaches, policies, and tools to cope with growing uncertainty. With a focus on capacities instead of vulnerabilities, an approach is needed emphasizing the role of communities in planning interventions and strengthening community resilience. This research draws on vulnerability, social-ecological systems and drylands development theory to advance an integrated understanding of resilience at community level and its role towards sustainable development. To develop a general approach for development actors to characterize a community's resilience and plan locally targeted interventions is the overall objective of this research. A participatory approach towards defining and assessing community resilience forms the basis, as it is assumed this would enable development actors to more efficiently address development concerns and empower communities to strengthen their resilience. Underlying factors that determine community resilience in selected dryland communities in Tigray, northeastern Ethiopia are identified. Here, most of the population depends on subsistence agriculture, while food insecurity and poverty persist despite concerted regional development efforts. This research compares and consolidates local perceptions of determinants of community resilience that form the basis for guidelines towards a methodological framework for determining levels of community resilience in Tigray. The guidelines were used to compare levels of community resilience of communities, with implications for operationalizing community resilience in the context of drylands development practice. Findings reflect the importance of recognizing that resilience is not about maintaining a status quo, but about addressing how societies can develop in a changing environment. Prominence of resilience thinking can promote a development practice better suited to address the challenges and opportunities that changes create for poor dryland communities. Resilience thinking does not provide quick solutions, but contributes a long-term, multi-dimensional perspective of building capacities for improved responses to current needs and future change. Resilience is not a solution in itself but can contribute towards developing more resilient trajectories for drylands development.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Arid Lands Resource Sciences