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Climate Change in Africa

Social and Political Impacts, Conflicts, and Strategies

Edited By Bettina Engels and Kristina Dietz

This volume deals with the consequences of climate change and issues of international climate policy relating to Africa from a social science perspective. The contributions by international authors question dominant political approaches and key concepts of the climate debate. They explain how the effects of climate change are linked to existing social, economic and political-institutional structures and action by the State. The authors show how social movements in Africa shape climate policy «from below». The volume serves as an introduction into climate change in Africa. It wants to stimulate a critical debate on dominant strategies and points out that there can be no simple answers to the complex socio-ecological and political challenges linked to climate change in Africa.

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The political ecology of vulnerability: How the rural poor are excluded from climate policy. A case study from Morogoro, Tanzania (Kristina Dietz)


Kristina Dietz

The political ecology of vulnerability: How the rural poor are excluded from climate policy. A case study from Morogoro, Tanzania


Since the 1990s there has been broad agreement that the rural poor in the Global South are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. But what makes people vulnerable in the face of rising temperatures, the absence of rainfall and increasingly extreme weather events? How do the effects of global climate change interact with local socio-ecological and political constellations? And how can the concept of vulnerability be formulated in a social scientific way that takes social, political and ecological factors into account? This chapter attempts to answer these questions. The first section of the text develops a theoretical framework for the analysis of vulnerability, in which vulnerability to climate change is understood as a multidimensional and context-specific political phenomenon. Next, this framework is applied empirically. Referring to a case study from Tanzania, I argue that vulnerability is constituted through historical forms of nature appropriation and the exclusion of the rural poor from climate policy decision-making. It is shown that the institutions regulating access to, and control over, natural resources, as well as the mechanisms of political participation, in conjunction with the material effects of climate change, are constitutive elements of vulnerability, which influence the adaptive capacities of the rural poor. Empirical data for the case study were gathered in Tanzania during a two month research visit using various methods of...

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