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Icon for: Sarah McKune

SARAH MCKUNE

Presenter’s IGERT
U of Florida
Years in Grad School: 3

Finalist

Abstract

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The Effect of Perceived Risk of Climate Change on Patterns of Adaptation and Livelihood Resilience in Eastern Niger

An estimated 10% of the population of Niger are pastoralists, those whose livelihood depends upon the raising of domestic animals for consumption (meat and/or milk), social exchange, sale, and trade. Pastoralists are well positioned to exploit a resource base that is often perceived as too harsh, too remote, or otherwise disagreeable by agricultural communities. Their reliance on milk and animal products for subsistence and their unique social adaptations allow for a high level of resilience, essential for communities whose environment continually requires them to cope and adapt. However, such arid and semi-arid regions of the world are projected to be among those most affected by global climate change, which poses a new challenge to the historic adaptability and resilience of pastoral groups. This study examines perceptions of climate change within communities in Tanout District of Niger who employ varying levels of pastoralism in their livelihood, and the impact of these perceptions on livelihood coping mechanisms, resilience, and adaptation. The research will ultimately utilize the 2005 and emerging 2010 food crises as external shocks around which perceptions of climate change and livelihood decisions may be examined. The research seeks to qualitatively and quantitatively describe the relationship between climate change, livelihood resilience, and adaptation, as experienced by communities along the nomadism-pastoralism continuum. This study examines whether perceptions of climate change are altering livelihood resilience and adaptations among populations across an agricultural-pastoral livelihood spectrum, with particular interest paid to determinants of and health outcomes associated with sedentarization.