CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
The research sought to explore climate change as a driver of environmental and smallholder farmers’ livelihood vulnerability in Makonde District of Zimbabwe. Based on the research aim, the following specific objectives were spelt out: To determine climate change trends and manifestations in the Makonde Communal lands; to evaluate household-level impacts of climate change and associated environmental changes on smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in the Makonde Communal lands; and to investigate the extent of household-level coping and adaptation strategies to climate change by the Makonde rural community.
Hence to address the outlined aim and research objectives, an appropriate mix of research methods were carefully selected. The research methods employed were deemed to be adequate in covering the wider spectrum of key variables to measure climate change trends, related biophysical impacts and subsequent human responses in the form of land use, livelihoods, coping and adaptation strategies among others in the communal lands-part of the Makonde District.
STRATEGY OF INQUIRY
The broad research strategy used in this research is qualitative in nature. A qualitative methodology of inquiry is rooted in the phenomenological paradigm as opposed to the positivist school of thought (Corbetta, 2003). The phenomenological paradigm emphasizes understanding, analyzing and describing phenomena without necessarily relying on quantitative measurements and statistics (Dawson, 2007). In direct contrast to positivism, phenomenological approaches accept subjectivity as opposed to objectivity. Phenomenology also allows for interpretation of events and phenomena such as those identified in the investigation of rural livelihoods and climate change challenges and opportunities in the Makonde District of Zimbabwe as opposed to strict quantitative measurements. The phenomenological approach is characterized by a focus on qualitative interpretation of people‘s perceptions and meanings attached to social phenomena, attitudes, beliefs and value systems (Lincoln and and Guba, 2000).
Within the context of this research, social phenomena such as personal experiences, beliefs, attitudes and opinions of the leadership and members of the smallholder Makonde community, local authorities and experts were investigated. According to Leedy (1989), the qualitative research methodology might be considered a “warm” approach to the central problem of research as this kind of research investigates issues identified earlier in addition to interpersonal relationships, meanings construction, experiences and associated thoughts or feelings. With this, the researcher attempted to attain rich, deep, real and valid data on climate change experiences and responses in the Makonde communal lands. The quantitative methodology on the other hand is “cold” and decisions are made with the coldness of a steel rule (Leedy, 1989; Dawson, 2007). Quantitative methodologies manipulate variables by constructing hypotheses and testing them against the hard facts of reality and as such the use of quantitative techniques in this particular research was only limited to addressing the meteorological aspects of climate change as dictated by the first objective and research question of the thesis.
The study included the gathering, analysis and interpretation of climatic data with emphasis on the past and current scenarios, with little reference to climate modeling for potential future impacts. This position was taken because of the inherent weaknesses associated with climate modeling for the future ‘scenarios’. Smit and Pilifosova (2001) argue that assumptions put forward in climate modeling fail to match with behaviors, both natural and human. There is a distinction between rational behavior under perfect information and rational behavior under uncertainty which is characteristic of local climate change and human responses such as those that were likely in the Makonde communal lands. Efficient adaptation techniques are only theoretically possible and not without uncertainty, as individuals may not necessarily behave rationally nor be willing to act with imperfect information (Yohe and Neumann, 1997; Smit and Pilifosova, 2001).
Whilst the study is generally dominated by the qualitative methodological perspective of inquiry, the complex nature of the subject matter under study calls for strategic flexibility in the field. The subject under study is complex in the sense that it covers several dimensions including; the biophysical, socio–cultural, economic and political aspects altogether constituting a rural livelihood system. Among the biophysical variables covered, are meteorological data that is mostly quantitative in nature. Besides the environmental data, the study on the other hand elicits socio-economic data concerning land use, livelihood, and personal experiences and opinions, which can either, be quantitative or qualitative in form. In this regard, a mixed method approach was therefore considered the most appropriate for the study. Newman and Benz (1998), point out that a mixed methods approach has come of age, and to include only the qualitative or the quantitative methods falls short of major approaches being used today in social and human sciences. Given the growing complexity of human civilization the situation today is less of quantitative versus qualitative and more of how research practices lie somewhere on a continuum between the two quantitative and qualitative methods (Newman and Benz, 1998; Tashakkori and Teddle, 1998).
The mixed approach is in agreement with pragmatic knowledge claims which derive from the works of Pierce, James, Mead and Dewey (Greene et al.., 1989). Other contributors to the paradigm include Spradley (1980), Bryman (1988) and Patton (1990). The approach is also rooted in the argument that knowledge claims arise from actions, situations and consequences rather than antecedent conditions as in the positivist philosophy. The ontology of this particular thesis therefore is rooted in the interepretivist paradigm whose underlying assumption upholds the notion that reality is not simply to be observed, but rather to be interpreted (Schwandt, 2000; Corbetta, 2003). In the human sciences to which my thesis belongs, there is no such detachment between the observer and the object under study and knowledge can therefore be obtained only through the process of comprehension. In the case of natural sciences; we explain it, whilst life of the mind calls for understanding (Bailey, 2007; Bryman, 2012).
There is concern with applications that is, what works and the associated problems (Patton, 1990). Rather than the method being the most important aspect as within the postpositivist framework, it is the problem that is the most important. Researchers are then required to use a variety of approaches possible in order to understand the problem holistically. Bryman (1988) and Corbetta (2003) concur with this argument and suggest that the distinction between quantitative and qualitative research is really a technical matter whereby the choice between them has to do with their suitability in answering particular research questions.
The research question–based criteria in selecting the methodology apply quite perfectly with this thesis. For instance the first question related to climate change trends and patterns in the Makonde district calls for the acquisition and analysis of quantitative meteorological data. The second research question on the climate change impacts involves both quantitative and qualitative data whilst the third on coping and adaptation strategies mostly relies on qualitative data. This constitutes the philosophical underpinning for mixed methods of inquiry (Rossman and Wilson, 1985; Greene and Casracelli, 1997). There is therefore need to focus more on the research problem on social sciences research like this one focusing on Makonde Communal lands and then using the pluralistic approach to derive knowledge about the problem such as the case with climate change, associated environmental impacts and livelihood responses.
Crotty (1998) provides a list of knowledge claims rooted in pragmatism and they include the following:
- The study is not committed to any one system of philosophy and reality, which applies to mixed methods of research and inquiries should draw liberally from both the quantitative and qualitative methods;
- The world is not an absolute unity as it is multi dimensional and so calls for mixed approaches / strategies for inquiry in recognition of the fact that the truth is what works at the time and thus a combination of research methods help to provide the best understanding of the research problem;
- To support the multidimensional context of the Makonde study, there is an argument that research always occurs in natural, social, historical, political and other contexts and as such, the mixed research methods open the door to multiple methods, different world views and different assumptions and to different forms of data collection and analysis (Crotty, 1998).
Based on the multispectral nature of the data collected and analysed, the study can also be attributed to a multidisciplinary research. The fact that the study is exploring climate and associated environmental change, and human responses requires that the research does not emerge from any single discipline. While a mono-disciplinary approach allows empirical evidence to be tested within a known and confined spectrum of theories, environmental change, particularly climate change cannot be pigeonholed as either a natural or social science issue. Hence the study of such phenomena calls for an inherently interdisciplinary approach (Newby, 1997; Creswell, 2003; Bryman, 2012).
The study looks at the impacts of climate change in developing countries from the perspective that requires both an examination of natural risks within a given deve recognizes that the livelihood challenges being experienced are not exclusively attributable to climatic and environmental conditions alone, but rather, that socioeconomic, cultural and other factors also have influence to the prevailing livelihood constraints (Aguilar et al., 2005). In order to develop appropriate mechanisms for addressing the prevailing livelihood vulnerability to climate change in a given local context, both social and natural science perspectives must come together in policy formulation (Patton, 1990).
The framework for this thesis is therefore based on beliefs about environment and development that touch on theories of political ecology. Benton (1998) makes the case for social theory to challenge technical versions of environmental management, and suggest an interdisciplinary approach as a mode of enquiry for addressing environmental problems. Such an approach not only avoids limiting the researcher to one set of theories, but also offers a broad range of methodologies for data collection and analysis. In pursuit of the mixed method research design two main approaches were therefore adopted. Based on lessons learnt from Schipper’s (2004) case study, (Section 2.7.1) a case study approach was adopted as the principal data generation instrument. To complement the case study option, a historical-descriptive approach was also employed. Both these two methodologies will each be considered in much depth in the next sessions starting with the case study approach.
The Case Study Approach
The case study approach concerns itself with the use of specific cases and case material to analyze elements of a particular subject matter, derive some lessons and draw conclusions and recommendations (Yin, 1994; Stake, 1995). In most instances the conclusions drawn are context specific and cannot be generalized to other contexts. Schipper (2004) defines the case study approach as a strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple sources of evidence. In the case of this particular research, the case study aims to investigate how vulnerable communities in Makonde Communal lands of Zimbabwe respond to the prevailing climate variability and change. As a developing country, Zimbabwe is prone to the risk of climate variability and change. In addition, Zimbabwe is a party to the UNFCCC and for these reasons among others; it is strongly considered as deserving research commitment in the field of climate change, associated biophysical and socio economic impacts, coping and adaptation strategies at the local and national context.
A case study research also allows the researcher to examine theoretical underpinnings empirically (Yin, 1994; Schipper, 2004). The use of case studies made it possible for this particular Makonde study to observe salient climate change trends and consequent livelihood impacts, challenges and opportunities that are specific to the Makonde community over the period of between July and September 2012. This is anticipated to enable the researcher to get in-depth knowledge about the realities and key factors for livelihood implications of climate change at the local level. Zimbabwe in general and Makonde communal lands in particular, were taken as a case study that provides insights into the real life climate change trends and their associated livelihood, policy and institutional implications.
As expected of a case study, a mix of data collection instruments was employed in the study including: key informant interviews; household questionnaires; documentation and archives and field observations. This was in line with Yin’s (2004) suggestion that evidence for case studies are derived from six premises which include: archives, interviews, observation, documentation, participants–observation and physical artifacts which in this case relates to land use pattern changes in the Makonde Communal lands. The details regarding the nature of instruments employed, their advantages and disadvantages as well as how the disadvantages were addressed in the research are discussed under each of the sections dealing with a with a particular instrument in the coming sections.
Whilst the case study was a preferred approach in this particular study, it is important to recognize the inherent weaknesses of this approach in order to put in place measures to mitigate the potential implications on the validity and reliability the research (Yin, 2004). It is generally noted that the applicability of the measure of reliability in case studies is questionable (Hall and Hall, 1996). The findings of case studies are often context specific and so in many instances may not be applied to generalize (Yin, 2004). This also applies to this particular study whose findings on community vulnerability and adaptation to climate change may not necessarily be replicated in similar studies on other communities who may have a different geographical, historical, socioeconomic and political setting (Stake, 1995).
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Acronyms
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.2 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.5 THE STUDY AREA
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
1.7 THESIS OUTLINE
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 GLOBAL AND SUB SAHARAN AFRICA CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDS
2.2 REASONS FOR CONCERN ABOUT ANTHROPOGENIC CLIMATE CHANGE
2.3 LIVELIHOOD VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE
2.4 SECTORAL VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE
2.5 SPATIAL PATTERNS OF VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE
2.6 ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
2.7 EMPIRICAL LOCAL EXPERIENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE: VULNERABILITY AND ADAPTATION
2.8 INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSES TO CLIMATE CHANGE RISKS
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
3.1 STRATEGY OF INQUIRY
3.2 DATA GATHERING TOOLS
3.3 RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
3.5 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
CHAPTER FOUR: PRESENTATION OF DATA AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
4.1 THE SOCIOECONOMIC DESCRIPTION OF THE STUDY POPULATION
4.2 CLIMATE CHANGE TRENDS IN THE MAKONDE COMMUNAL LANDS
4.3 IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN MAKONDE COMMUNAL LANDS
4.4 HOUSEHOLD-LEVEL COPING STARTEGIES TO CLIMATE CHANGE
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS
5.3 SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
LIST OF REFERENCES
LIST OF APPENDICES
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
AN INVESTIGATION OF COMMUNAL FARMERS’S LIVELIHOODS AND CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN MAKONDE RURAL DISTRICT OF ZIMBABWE