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Ongoing Research

SP06 - Cultural knowledge, valuation, and regulation of ESS

Within this section we outline how ongoing research within SP06 is executed. The anthropological subproject SP06 is currently working on the first two tasks (formerly the first three, tasks 1+2 of the proposal have been merged).

 Understanding 'Environmental Knowledge and Valuation'
Within this task we identify local how residents' perceive + valuate their resources and ecosystem services (ESS)

 Understanding the contribution of ESS to residents' livelihoods and its transformations
Within this task we ask:

  • What role do ESS play in residents' livelihoods?
  • How do residents use/consume 'the landscape'?

Our team composed of African and German researchers is currently working on the three cores sites Chitembo, Mashare and Seronga where we always work on both tasks in close interaction with local communities, households and landusers.

We are using a mix of anthropological methods integrating the following aspects:

  • Qualitative work
  • Socioeconomic Baseline Survey. This broad survey which is being taen for a sample of about 300 households per site is a collaboration between SP's 06, 07, 08. It will deliver a precise overview of population, socio-economic conditions and household economies in all three sites. Data collection in Namibia and Botswana is ongoing. SP6 will take up data collection in Angola in early next year assisted by our Portuguese partner ISCTE-CEA.
  • A set of core methods which will be applied at all sites to assure the comparability of data (see below).

 Task 1: Core methods of data acquisition

Within task 1 we aim to understand the meanings residents attribute to their (ecological) surrounding. We ask how these meanings are being exercised and regulated in resident's everyday life. The goal is to analyze the way values of ESS are 'locally' constituted. To approach local concepts and knowledge of nature/environment/landscapes we approach local terminology and use open free lists on domains which are considered by locals as "part of nature."

By carefully considering local concepts and wording we achieve a first product: A listing of acknowledged components of the environment.

In a second step we ask for types of values and processes of valuation of these locally acknowledged components of the environment. Questions used refer to the list of items produced in step 1 and comprise:

  • What is important to you about this item?
  • Why? What does this asset provide to you?
  • How important is it to you? (Approaching hierarchies of values using rankings and comparisons).

In this approach we combine qualitative and quantitative methods to access which services of the Ecosystems the residents perceive and how these ESS are locally valued.

In a third step we attempt to locate the valuations of ESS in space and to map them in an exercise called "mapping of landscape values." Within this step informants are being asked to use any means of outlining their spatial perceptions on located values (i.e. drawing, pointing on maps, or locating on walks with GPS etc.). The outcome of this step will be a GIS Map of local values. In the analysis of this we are able to show how certain values (e.g. political values, religious values, economic values) are located in space and how the valuation differs along social categories (e.g. gender, age, income).


Images outlining the mapping task

Photo
Mapping task
© João Baptista (TFO)
Photo
Mapping task
© João Baptista (TFO)
Photo
Mapping task
© João Baptista (TFO)
Photo
Mapping task
© João Baptista (TFO)
Photo
Mapping task
© João Baptista (TFO)

 Task 2: Core methods of data acquisition

Within this task grounding on our previous and ongoing work we are testing the following Hypothesis: ''People in the research areas depend on ESS for livelihoods ...


Images outlining the resource dependency

Photo
Young men transporting harvested planks of timber on motorcycles near Huambo, Angola
© Michael Pröpper (TFO)
Photo
Couple harvesting millet in Kavango, Namibia
© Michael Pröpper (TFO)
Photo
Man thatching is hut with rivver reed-grass in Mashare, Namibia
© Michael Pröpper (TFO)
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Children setting up fishtraps in Kavango, Namibia
© Thomas Falk (TFO)

 ... but are increasingly confronted with modern markets and consumer incentives.

Photo
Taken in Rundu/Namibia
© Michael Pröpper (TFO)
Photo
Taken in Rundu/Namibia
© Michael Pröpper (TFO)
Photo
Taken in Rundu/Namibia
© Michael Pröpper (TFO)
Photo
Taken in Rundu/Namibia
© Michael Pröpper (TFO)
Photo
Taken in Rundu/Namibia
© Michael Pröpper (TFO)

This will affect their livelihood strategies, especially their behaviour upon their main form of capital - natural resources.''

To test this hypothesis we are investigating households as spatial clusters of common activities of individuals. We aim to understand how ESS are embedded into HH-livelihoods and decisions and how new strategies transform the HH system and the resource base and force them to adapt.

We ask:

  • Which consumptive decisions/acts happen in households,
  • Why do people decide on acts of acquiring/ingesting goods/resources/ideas?
  • How do people respond and adapt to transforming circumstances?

In addition to thorough qualitative work we work with a standardized core method:
Household item inventories on (long-term) possessions and their origins. The outcomes are comparable overviews (of lists and observations) of all non-food objects in HH to understand HH's constraints, wealth disparities, stratification and strategic differences.


Indside of a household in Serongs, Botswana
(Photo: Björn Herold)

Additionally we investigate food consumption as a core activity in households by asking households to keep a seven day food consumption diary. We then compare households food intake regarding their general social and economic situation with the aim to look at how and in what way household consumption is transforming under differing frame conditions (i.e. wealth disparities) and constraints (acces to resources, power etc.).

With both methods we aim to understand how ESS are being used in consumptive processes in households but as well how the uses of ESS will transform with changing economic and societal frame conditions.


Children of a household preparing food in Kavango, Namibia
(Photo Michael Pröpper)