Inter-Related Effects due to Droughts for Rural Populations: A Qualitative Field Study for Farmers in Iran

August 2013 (VOL. 31, NO. 2)

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This paper provides in-depth information on the multiple realities and time-dependencies during droughts over different sub-groups of an affected society. Dynamics are analyzed based on categorization of impacts into human, social, financial and natural capital effects and using the theory of conservation of resources for the behavioral explanation of selected coping strategies. A qualitative field study based on this approach was conducted in a village in southern Iran. It was found that droughts can cause waves of negative effects on various capital dimensions to farmers, especially the poor. The dimensions are very much interrelated and can multiply negative effects, decreasing resilience to drought to very low levels that can eventually lead to poverty trap-like situations. Furthermore, it was found that government aid interventions unintendedly worsened the situation of the poor. To avoid such situations it is suggested to shift from relief or ex-post interventions to a proactive risk management approach.