Livelihood Assets and Activities in Two East Coast Communities of Zanzibar and Implications for Vulnerability to Climate Change and Non-Climate Risks

  •  Makame Omar Makame    
  •  Layla Ali Salum    
  •  Richard Y. M. Kangalawe    


Climate variability related events such as drought and associated food shortages are not new along the coast of Zanzibar, but are projected to increase with the impacts of global climate change. This paper examines the ‘internal’ characteristics that make Zanzibar’s coastal communities vulnerable to these and other changes, focusing on the factors that affect adaptive capacity (i.e. household and community assets) and sensitivity (i.e. livelihood activities and diversification). The sustainable livelihood approach and framework, especially the five capitals or assets, provided a lens to examine households’ capital stocks and the factors influencing access to these, as well as the outcomes for livelihood activities. Access to different capitals and assets were found to affect the range and choices of livelihood activities available to households as well as their ability to cope and adapt to existing and new risk. Our analysis shows how households on the drier and harsher east coast of the Zanzibar islands are particularly sensitive to climate variability and change in concert with other livelihoods challenges. This is primarily due to their high dependence on natural-resource based livelihood activities, which are already facing pressures. Moreover, low levels of most livelihood capitals limit the choices households have and undermine their adaptive capacity and ability to bounce back from climate and other shocks and stressors.

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