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Understanding the Causes, Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts of 2019 Veld Fires in the Kingdom of Eswatini

26 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2020 Publication Status: Under Review

See all articles by Sizwe Mabaso

Sizwe Mabaso

University of Eswatini - Department of Geography, Environmental Science & Planning

Eric Seyama

National Disaster Management Agency

Sipho Mamba

Department of Geography, Environmental Science & Planning, Faculty of Science & Engineering, University of Eswatini

Sibusiso Ginindza

National Disaster Management Agency

Nosizo Mthupha

Deputy Prime Ministers Office

Sylvia Kunene

Shiselweni Forestry Company

Wisdom Dlamini

Department of Geography, Environmental Science & Planning, Faculty of Science & Engineering, University of Eswatini

Mcebisi Masuku

Department of Agricultural Biosystems & Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Eswatini

Ntabeni Msibi

National Disaster Management Agency

Luke Lushaba

National Fire and Emergency Services

Fulatsa Zwane

Eswatini Post and Telecommunication Corporation

Mvezi Dlamini

Peak Timbers Limited

Phephisa Sihlongonyane

Department of Meteorology, Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs

Nomcebo Hleta

National Disaster Management Agency

Musa Mabuza

Eswatini Post and Telecommunication Corporation

Lindokuhle Thwala

National Disaster Management Agency

Mpendulo Mpapane

National Disaster Management Agency

Abstract

Veld fires have become a frequent and devastating phenomena in the predominantly savanna ecosystems of the Kingdom of Eswatini. While fire damages have become more common and recurrent in recent years, their causes and impacts in the Kingdom of Eswatini are less understood, with very limited literature. This study aimed at filling up this existing information gap by investigating the causes, socio-economic and environmental impacts of veld fires, as well as highlighting the challenges and/or limitations in fire management and control in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The study used mixed methods approach to collect both primary and secondary data. These included household questionnaires and face-to-face interviews with key informants. The results showed that the major causes of fires are mainly anthropogenic, and these include arson and conflicts, controlled burning, ignorance of proper fire management practices, collision of electric cables, and acts of negligence, among others. Major impacts of veld fires in Eswatini were found to include disruption of rural (and urban) livelihoods, infrastructure damage, loss of biodiversity and destruction of important environmental resources, to mention but a few. The study concluded that fires contribute to biodiversity loss and that fires continue to be a major treat to the country’s economy. Lack of fire management resources is one contributing factor to the widespread fire damage in the country, while quantifying the direct economic loss resulting from fire remains a challenge due to lack of standardized fire damages data collection and reporting tools. The study recommended a development of a standardized tool for reporting fire damages, improvement of fire prevention and management, and development of an early warning system (in addition to capacity assessment of fire emergency operators) in an effort to improve fire management and to minimize fire-related damages in the country.

Suggested Citation

Mabaso, Sizwe and Seyama, Eric and Mamba, Sipho and Ginindza, Sibusiso and Mthupha, Nosizo and Kunene, Sylvia and Dlamini, Wisdom and Masuku, Mcebisi and Msibi, Ntabeni and Lushaba, Luke and Zwane, Fulatsa and Dlamini, Mvezi and Sihlongonyane, Phephisa and Hleta, Nomcebo and Mabuza, Musa and Thwala, Lindokuhle and Mpapane, Mpendulo, Understanding the Causes, Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts of 2019 Veld Fires in the Kingdom of Eswatini. SSHO-D-20-00819, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3727984 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3727984

Sizwe Mabaso (Contact Author)

University of Eswatini - Department of Geography, Environmental Science & Planning ( email )

Matsapha
Swaziland

Eric Seyama

National Disaster Management Agency ( email )

Sipho Mamba

Department of Geography, Environmental Science & Planning, Faculty of Science & Engineering, University of Eswatini ( email )

Sibusiso Ginindza

National Disaster Management Agency ( email )

Nosizo Mthupha

Deputy Prime Ministers Office ( email )

Sylvia Kunene

Shiselweni Forestry Company ( email )

Wisdom Dlamini

Department of Geography, Environmental Science & Planning, Faculty of Science & Engineering, University of Eswatini

Mcebisi Masuku

Department of Agricultural Biosystems & Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Eswatini ( email )

Ntabeni Msibi

National Disaster Management Agency ( email )

Luke Lushaba

National Fire and Emergency Services ( email )

Fulatsa Zwane

Eswatini Post and Telecommunication Corporation ( email )

Mvezi Dlamini

Peak Timbers Limited ( email )

Phephisa Sihlongonyane

Department of Meteorology, Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs

Nomcebo Hleta

National Disaster Management Agency ( email )

Musa Mabuza

Eswatini Post and Telecommunication Corporation ( email )

Lindokuhle Thwala

National Disaster Management Agency ( email )

Mpendulo Mpapane

National Disaster Management Agency

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