Research by IU professors Tom Evans and Scott Robeson (Geography), Kelly Caylor at Princeton University and colleagues at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Japan (RIHN), will study how smallholders in rural Zambia cope with climate variability in a new project funded by the National Science Foundation.

Rural livelihoods in many parts of the world are dramatically affected by climate variability and its corresponding impact on soil water availability and provision of ecosystem services. This is particularly the case in the semi-arid tropics (SAT), which contain 22% of the world’s population and high concentrations of chronic poverty and inadequate food consumption. In rural Zambia smallholders adopt a variety of coping mechanisms such as labor exchange, food-for-work programs, food-aid or having adults skip meals to survive periods when crops fail.

Evans and colleagues will study the geographical dimensions of those coping strategies and use different modeling techniques to identify hotspots of vulnerability.  This work builds on and is a collaboration with a large-scale research project developed by Dr. Chieko Umetsu and colleagues at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in Kyoto, Japan where Evans spent spring 2010 on sabbatical. This three-year project will ramp up in Fall 2010 through Spring 2011 with field work consisting of household surveys, remote sensing analysis, soil moisture measurements and hydrological modeling.

This work was supported by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in Japan, the National Science Foundation, and the Indiana University Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

IU Press Release, October 28, 2010

Children in Zambia