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Vulnerability of the South African farming sector to climate change and variability: An indicator approach
Journal Article

This paper analyses the vulnerability of South African agriculture to climate change and variability by developing a vulnerability index and comparing vulnerability indicators across the nine provinces of the country. Nineteen environmental and socio-economic indicators are identified to reflect the three components of vulnerability: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. The results of the study show that the regions most exposed to climate change and variability do not always overlap with those experiencing high sensitivity or low adaptive capacity. Furthermore, vulnerability to climate change and variability is intrinsically linked with social and economic development. The Western Cape and Gauteng provinces, which have high levels of infrastructure development, high literacy rates, and low shares of agriculture in total GDP, are relatively low on the vulnerability index. In contrast, the highly vulnerable regions of Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape are characterised by densely populated rural areas, large numbers of small-scale farmers, high dependency on rain-fed agriculture and high land degradation. These large differences in the extent of vulnerability among provinces suggest that policymakers should develop region-specific policies and address climate change at the local level.

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