Cross-scale resilience of food systems facing climate and market shocks. The case of Landesque capital accretion in the Bolivian amazon.

  1. markos, andrea
Supervised by:
  1. Javier Escalera Reyes Director

Defence university: Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Fecha de defensa: 03 October 2011

  1. Giorgio Gualberti Chair
  2. David Soto Fernández Secretary
  3. Valeria De Oliveira Committee member
  4. Agustín Coca Pérez Committee member
  1. Antropología Social, Psicología Básica y Salud Pública

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 315725 DIALNET


The purpose of this dissertation is to identify guiding principles for adaptation to climate change examining the linkages between technological and institutional change, energy, rural development and food security. Agro-Food Systems are both the most basic and vulnerable systems we rely upon, thus a chief priority in climate change adaptation. Climate change is expected to bring about conflicts over shrinking resources but also conflicts over the policies to face it (Foster, 2008). Scientific evidence is therefore of paramount importance, despite a long standing experience in dealing with climate variability, climate change is exacerbating rainfall polarization and intensity and many regions are at risk from institutional failures as well as climatic vagaries (FAO, OECD, 2009). Adaptive and maladaptive technologies and institutions are thus explored through case studies. The rural poor are the most exposed to climatic adversities and often the main food producers and suppliers in least developed countries (LDC). Precarious livelihoods in rural areas can translate into precarious food security in the urban settings. Presently about 2 billion farmers, most of them smallholders, feed the rest, including 1.3 billions, on the increase, urban poor (HLTF, 2008). Migration to urban marginal areas of rural population is accelerated from certain climate mitigation policies such as large scale biofuels production. Different approaches converge on a consensus about the need to fund rural development in order to keep poor farmers and indigenous people on their land. Poverty should thus be reduced via mitigating and adapting to a changing climate (World Bank, 2008b, WRI, 2008; RRI, 2008c). Newly urbanized population is more exposed to market shocks because completely dependent upon markets for food supplies (FAO, 2008b; UNDP, 2008). Food supply chains are at risk of disruption due to climate shocks. There is a complex web of causal connections between technological change, agriculture, climate change, vulnerability and food security in urban and rural settings. Some of these connections are explored in detail as well as basic concepts such as social and ecological resilience. The second half of the dissertation focuses on the analysis of a fossil agricultural landscape in the Bolivian Amazon (Beni Department) and ho the ancient dwellers of the region, today one of the most vulnerable to climate change country-wise, successfully adapted to dramatic changes in the paleo-climate by domesticating the ecosystem. The transformation of the savannah ecosystem into agricultural landscape though gradual accretion of landesque capital increased the land carrying capacity for both humans and wildlife. Deep ecological literacy inherent in the management of water and nutrients at landscape level allowed the flourishing of a civilization with a population of millions who thrived for thousands years on a land that today supports less than half million. Once explored the main elements of the landscape capital the analysis focuses on food security and constraints and opportunities for rural development in the department. Oxfam has funded four projects with raised cultivation fields that recover this ancient technology and these are evaluated through a survey where all beneficiaries are interviewed and data analyzed with SPSS. The dissertation ends with recommendations on how to move on with the recovery and update of the agro-archeological engineering of the landscape in response to current and expected food security and local development scenarios. The final results feed into local development processes being included by the Departmental Government into their five years planning (2011-2015).