New paper out “Perception of change: Narratives and strategies of farmers in Madagascar”

New paper out “Perception of change: Narratives and strategies of farmers in Madagascar” by Natasha Stoudmann, Patrick O. Waeber, Ihoby H. Randriamalala, Claude A. Garcia (Available here

Summary: Farmers in the Anthropocene are exposed to drivers of change stemming from multiple sources, sometimes distant from their immediate neighbourhood. These socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances are referred to as telecoupling. How do they impact the rural communities in developing countries? How do poor farmers perceive change and react to it? This study explores these questions with rural communities of Madagascar’s Maningory watershed. We use the Q methodology, developed for the quantitative study of subjectivity in order to investigate the perception of change of these farmers and their reactive behaviour to perceived stresses and shocks. Participants recognise experiencing changes stemming from a wide variety of areas of their lives, from decreasing quantity of rain to increasing school fees. The five resulting factors from the Q method illustrate a large panel of possible behaviours in the face of change, potentially linked to different levels of vulnerability amongst farmers. Participants appear to largely adopt reactive measures and are often left to their own devices. A lack of human and social capital forces them to tap into the natural capital within their grasp, increasing the pressure on natural ecosystems and their resources. A stronger involvement of governmental institutions could in part alleviate the situation. Increasing risk awareness as well as strengthening knowledge exchanges and experience transfer that take into account resource dependency and gender differences is recommended to increase the resilience of the socio-ecological system.