Adaptive responses to environmental and sociopolitical change in Southern Zambia

Lisa Cliggett, Elizabeth Colson, Rod Hay, Thayer Scudder, Jon Unruh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The Gwembe Tonga live in Zambia's Southern Province, a region of climatic extremes including severe multiyear droughts over the past century, coupled with periods of flooding and pest infestation. This, together with political fluctuations over the last 50 years, has significantly influenced their livelihood choices and ecological impacts, and they have learned to anticipate difficulties beyond local control. The building of the Kariba Dam on the Middle Zambezi River in the late 1950s, initiated by the colonial government in conjunction with the World Bank, resulted in the forced and very unwelcome relocation of the Gwembe Tonga. Almost 50 years after this forced resettlement, which virtually overnight undermined the local livelihood system and resource base, and drastically altered their social world, we find the Gwembe Tonga voluntarily colonizing frontier regions in different ecosystems on the plateau above their original Valley home. It is thus possible to examine a long trajectory of adaptation to new ecosystems and look for patterns over time.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman Ecology
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Research and Practice
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'Adaptive responses to environmental and sociopolitical change in Southern Zambia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this