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HRD Vulnerability to drought in Mozambique – Bath Spa University

Drivers and trajectories of vulnerability to drought in Mozambique, 1500-present

Wednesday 26 October, 2022 – Wednesday 26 October, 2022
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2022-23.

Drought is a frequent life experience in Mozambique, and one that is likely to become more complex as warming of the Indian Ocean leads to rainfall deficits. Long duration records of drought and its impacts are important to understanding how future extremes may manifest, yet equally important in facilitating sharper appreciation of contemporary challenges is an understanding of how drivers and trajectories of human vulnerability to drought have evolved over time. In Mozambique, this necessarily involves an understanding of the historical and long-term effects of colonialism on livelihood strategies and drought responses.

This presentation examines long run patterns in a key component of this vulnerability: food systems. Specifically, it draws on a new historical database of foodstuffs and food systems for 269 sites in Mozambique and neighbouring areas in order to analyse early colonial impacts on the distribution and relative importance of different foodstuffs and agricultural livelihoods. While some historians have argued that nineteenth century agricultural systems held a fundamentally similar appearance to their sixteenth century counterparts, this paper points towards significant changes in food-producing livelihoods before the advance of modern capitalism. The role and significance of long-term shifts in food production in shaping vulnerability to drought is considered with respect to past drought events reconstructed from historical documentary records, and finally to contemporary patterns of vulnerability in modern Mozambique.

About the speaker

Matthew Hannaford is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Lincoln, UK. His research interests centre around the environmental history of southern Africa before colonial times, especially human interactions with climate variability and the history of food systems. His research also examines the relevance of historical research for present-day questions of climate adaptation.

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