A people-centred framework for exploring water, energy and food security in a small developing island

Rebecca Newman*, Jessica Thorn, Tahir Haji, Aziza Nchimbi, Irene Musa, Charis Enns, University York

*Corresponding author for this work

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Small developing islands face a number of environmental and social pressures which impact resource security. This study uses a people-centred framework to investigate social-ecological interactions for water, energy and food security. Ten semi-structured focus group discussions were conducted in Pemba and Unguja islands with village elders and leaders. Results demonstrate that shocks and stresses affecting resource security are attributed to land use and resource competition, deforestation, climate change and insufficient resource infrastructure. The scale and strength of such pressures are heightened in dry seasons and also correspond with spatial characteristics such as remoteness, intensity of land use and amount of natural resource capital. Whilst a number of adaptive responses are identified, these appear to be incremental and do not address the scale of the challenge. Maladaptive responses are also identified; most concerning is the use of poor quality water when piped water was disrupted, reduced nutritional intake during dry season and using unsustainable supplies or methods of obtaining of fuelwood. Findings illustrate the importance of using people-centred approaches for understanding the complexity of social-ecological interactions for resource security. They also demonstrate that interventions for resource management need to consider spatial heterogeneity and temporality in terms of how specific land cover uses connect to differential pressures and adaptation capacity over time.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages29
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2023


  • Climate change
  • Maladaptation
  • Socio-ecological
  • Adaptation
  • United Kingdom
  • Resource management
  • Deforestation


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