Original Research

Participation of communal cattle farmers in drought risk reduction in Southern Zimbabwe

Thabo Ndlovu, Johannes Belle, Mitulo Silengo
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 13, No 1 | a982 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v13i1.982 | © 2021 Thabo Ndlovu, Johannes Belle, Mitulo Silengo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 May 2020 | Published: 14 May 2021

About the author(s)

Thabo Ndlovu, Institute of Development Studies, Faculty of Commerce, National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Johannes Belle, Disaster Management Training and Education Centre, Faculty of Agriculture, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Mitulo Silengo, Disaster Management Centre, Mulungushi University, Kabwe, Zambia

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Communal cattle farming has remained the mainstay of many rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe and beyond. This was an enterprise that has stood the test of time, despite the increasing threats from drought shocks in the last two decades in Southern Africa. Prevalence of weather-related shocks was of concern, which had not galvanised communal farmers to actively engage in disaster risk reduction (DRR) initiatives in order to shield cattle from the negative effects of drought. In light of this development, this article examined the complexities of the involvement of communal farmers in DRR strategies to reduce the risk posed by drought on livestock in rural Umzingwane. This article used Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation to discern and generate insights on ways to promote the involvement of poor or vulnerable farmers or ‘have-nots’ in drought mitigation processes. This study adopted the descriptive survey design with 180 structured questionnaires administered to communal cattle farmers. Besides in-depth interviews, focus group discussions were held to examine the contributions of relevant stakeholders in driving the drought risk reduction agenda involving communal cattle farmers. This study revealed that limited investment options seriously affected farmers’ abilities to participate in drought risk reduction processes. Furthermore, farmers’ low-income levels and lack of well-defined drought risk reduction pathways did not offer the impetus to invest accordingly in drought mitigation. This article accentuated that successful drought risk reduction process were unachievable without the voice of the affected. Hence, development agencies should exceed placation and invest in strategies that propped philosophies of the vulnerable.


communal cattle farmers; drought risk reduction; have-not; participation preparedness.


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