n South African Geographical Journal = Suid-Afrikaanse Geografiese Tydskrif - The impact of the 2015-16 El Nino drought on the irrigated home gardens of the Komati downstream development project, Swaziland - research

Volume 102 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0373-6245
  • E-ISSN: 2151-2418
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Swaziland was affected severely by the 2015–16 El Nino drought, which severely affected agriculture and food security. Of special interest to this paper is its impact on irrigated home gardens on the Komati Downstream Development Project. This project was designed to extend irrigated sugar cane onto customary tenured Swazi Nation Land, with a secondary objective to improve food security by enabling farmers to convert some land from rain-fed to irrigated maize and vegetable production. A random questionnaire survey was undertaken on three farmers’ associations of the KDDP which have adopted irrigated home gardens, sampling approximately 50 per cent of those eligible. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with committee members of the associations. The paper concludes that unlike previous droughts where the gardens enabled farmers to produce food at a time when rain-fed production had collapsed, in the 2015–16 drought, the impact on water supplies was so great that the irrigated gardens also failed, compromising the food security of the farmers and their neighbours. It also appears that a significant number of farmers are beginning to question the long-term viability of their current farm system in the face of what many perceive as longterm changes in the regional climate.

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