Negotiating Uncertainty: Jamaican Small Farmers’ Adaptation and Coping Strategies, Before and After Hurricanes—A Case Study of Hurricane Dean
In recent years, Jamaica has been seriously affected by a number of extreme meteorological events. The one discussed here, Hurricane Dean, passed along the south coast of the island in August 2007, damaging crops and disrupting livelihood activities for many small-scale farmers. This study is based on detailed ethnographic research in the southern coastal region of St. Elizabeth parish during the passage of Hurricane Dean, and explores the ways in which small farmers negotiate the stressors associated with hurricane events. The study employed a mix methods approach based on a survey of 282 farming households. The paper documents coping strategies employed by farmers in the immediate period of Hurricane Dean to reduce damage to their farming systems, and highlights the positive correlation between farmers’ perceptions of hurricanes and degree of damage to local farming systems. In addition, through an analysis of socio-economic and environmental data, the paper provides an understanding of the determinants of adaptive capacity and strategy among farmers in the area. The study indicated that despite high levels of vulnerability, farmers have achieved successful coping and adaptation at the farm level.