Library Dissertation Showcase

The role of historical-colonial roots in shaping current day climate adaptation policies and practices in Africa

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

This study investigates how current day climate adaptation policies and practices have been shaped by historical-colonial roots in five African countries (Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya and Lesotho). This is broken down into 1) how adaptation strategies differed across British colonial Africa (type of colony, societal organisation), 2) how successful were the colonial adaptation strategies and how vulnerability has been shaped and 3) how current adaptation practices and policies in the present have been shaped by those developed during the colonial period. Colonialism caused lasting socio-economic impacts, with legacies still visible in the present day, with political instability and colonial government institutions and the continued marginalisation of local populations. Annual colonial reports were produced by the colonial officers, reporting on the economic affairs and general colonial administration. From these reports, food availability and adaptation strategies were formulated into a chronological order, showing the patterns over the colonial period, and thus the similarities and differences within and between countries. Technology dominated colonial adaptation with colonisers exerting their western approaches to agriculture and general values onto indigenous populations. These strategies are still being reflected in current National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), highlighting the continued dominance of colonial ruling, even post-independence. The colonial period did not reduce the prevalence of famine, as past narratives may have suggested. Arguably, colonialism increased vulnerability to climatic extremes through the deterioration of pre-colonial social and economic institutions, and the legacies left behind in the post-colonial period. Colonial roots have largely shaped modern climate adaptation practices and policies in the five African nations in this study.

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