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Social-ecological traps and transformations in dryland agro-ecosystems: Using water system innovations to change the trajectory of development
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2013 (English)In: Global Environmental Change, ISSN 0959-3780, E-ISSN 1872-9495, Vol. 23, no 1, 51-60 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent efforts to achieve a much needed productivity increase in farming systems across semi-arid and dry sub-humid sub-Saharan Africa have highlighted the potential of small-scale water system innovations (SWSIs). This paper takes a social-ecological resilience approach to investigate how this type of water management technology would influence agro-ecosystem dynamics, using a catchment in northeastern Tanzania as an example. The analysis finds that three external drivers (increasing dryspell frequency, population growth, and institutional changes) have interacted with a set of key variables in the studied system to shape a development trajectory over the past half-century where off-farm ecosystem services are being degraded while agricultural yields remain low and people remain poor. The analysis further finds that the evaluated SWSIs have the potential to destabilize feedbacks maintaining this social-ecological trap through several different mechanisms, and thereby open up for new development trajectories. A concluding discussion identifies a number of challenges to this type of transformation in sub-Saharan Africa, and outlines the type of investment approaches that would be needed to go from potential to reality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 23, no 1, 51-60 p.
Keyword [en]
Farming, Water system innovations, Social-ecological dynamics, Ecosystem services, Poverty, Development trajectory, Feedback
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88965DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.10.007ISI: 000315617200006OAI: diva2:616503
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency


Available from: 2013-04-17 Created: 2013-04-08 Last updated: 2014-10-09Bibliographically approved

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Enfors, Elin
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