Lives at risk: A study of tsetse fly effects in Hurungwe district, Zimbabwe.
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Tsetse is prevalent in Africa and continues to emerge, causing socio-economic problems associated with human and animal diseases. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that 37 countries are host to the fly. While the biology of tsetse and mechanisms of disease transfer are widely understood, its social aspects remain poorly understood. For instance, it is not known who exactly is affected by the fly, how and why. Nor is it understood how people respond to this phenomenon which has a potential of constraining them. This study arises to investigate this matter. Its specific objectives are, firstly, to find out how different actors’ interaction with the ecosystem in pursuit of livelihoods has affected their exposure to the fly and its diseases; secondly, to establish the livelihood effects of the tsetse fly and its diseases and thirdly, to find out how different actors/social groups understand and represent the fly. In terms of methodology, the study predominantly employed a qualitative approach. The study interviewed local people on how they have been affected by the fly and their perceptions regarding tsetse prevalence and distribution. In addition, and in line with sound ethical practices, participatory research methods were adopted. These included focus group discussions (FGDs) and mapping to identify landscapes hosting tsetse and natural resources linked to livelihoods. The study also employed secondary sources, particularly to understand the history, ethnicity and culture of the people who live in Hurungwe’s diseased landscapes. A limited survey, whose purpose was to get preliminary data on various aspects of tsetse and its diseases in the area, was also used. In relation to the first objective, the main observation is that people’s different strategies to satisfy livelihoods in specific areas and times create exposure to tsetse flies and disease. In relation to the second objective, the main observation is that tsetse does indeed affect people and this in different ways. Cattle owners, for instance, lose their livestock each time there is an outbreak, thereby affecting farming through loss of draught power. In terms of the third objective, the observation is that different social groups have varying perceptions on the prevalence and distribution of tsetse and its diseases. The perceptions seem to reflect underlying interests relating to land and livelihoods in a contested territory. In conclusion, the study confirms that tsetse does indeed exist and that it constrains people’s livelihoods. But the study also shows how people use human agency to overcome these constraints so as to continue with their livelihoods. It is this finding which is of interest to the study because it supports the theoretical understanding of man as an agent and not a passive actor left to die in marginal zones. Rather, man emerges as an active contestant, maneuvering their way through difficult circumstances, in some cases winning and in others losing. In terms of recommendations, the study suggests a targeted and inclusive approach that engages local people and other disciplines when dealing with the tsetse menace.
Additional Citation InformationMangwanya, L. (2019). Lives at risk: A study of tsetse fly effects in Hurungwe district, Zimbabwe. [Unpublished doctoral thesis].University of Zimbabwe.
University of Zimbabwe
Human and animal diseases
Tsetse flies and its diseases