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Religious and cultural - spiritual attributions of climate - driven changes on food production: a case study from North Malaita, Solomon Islands

Bird, Zina and Wairiu, Morgan and Jacot des Combes, Helene and Iese, Viliamu (2021) Religious and cultural - spiritual attributions of climate - driven changes on food production: a case study from North Malaita, Solomon Islands. In: Beyond Belief: Opportunities for Faith-Engaged Approaches to Climate-Change Adaptation in the Pacific Islands. Climate Change Management book series . Springer Nature, Switzerland, pp. 39-56. ISBN 978-3-030-67601-8

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Increasing concern exists over the impacts of climate change on food production amongst the Pacific Island Countries (PICs). Changing weather patterns are already having effects on soil fertility, pests and diseases, heat stress in plants, soil moisture, saltwater incursion from rising sea levels, and increased damage to agriculture and crops from climate-related extreme events. Although climate-related extreme events such as cyclones, floods, droughts and storm surges are causing damages on food production, farmers in PICs often attribute the occurrences and frequency of climatic hazards to God, spiritual beliefs and cultural practices. This paper evaluates farmers’ perceptions of how their food production systems and livelihoods are influenced by religious and cultural-spiritual beliefs, as a proxy for understanding climate impacts. We conducted 98 in-depth, semi-structured one-on-one interviews, a social-demographic survey (n = 98) and personal observations on farmers’ behaviours using the snowballing method in the Malu’u and Sikwafata communities on Malaita in the Solomon Islands. We thematically analysed the transcripts placing emphasis on understanding commonalities and differences within and between the study sites. We found that climate impacts on food production are one of the major problems identified by 92.3% of the respondents (29.0% of youths, 25.8% of middle-age, and 37.5% of elderlies) who attribute climate impacts to God's punishment or the fulfilment of a prophecy. Human factors including folklore (cultural behaviours/sorcery) were also factors affecting food production for 76% of the respondents (19.3% of youths, 31.6% of middle-age, and 25.1% of elderlies). We also found that 5.4% of farmers had no knowledge or awareness about climate change and 21.7% claimed that lack of farming equipment (tilling tools and planting materials) was a major problem. More community awareness on climate change and its impacts and further research is needed to enable farmers to make informed decisions about improving their food production systems.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Divisions: Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD)
Depositing User: Ms Shalni Sanjana
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 03:15
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2021 03:15

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