Main content area

Religiousness/spirituality do not necessarily matter: Effect on risk perception and adaptive strategies in the semi-arid region of NE Brazil

Oliveira, Regina Célia da Silva, Albuquerque, Ulysses Paulino, da Silva, Temóteo Luiz Lima, Ferreira Júnior, Washington Soares, Chaves, Leonardo da Silva, Araújo, Elcida de Lima
Global ecology and conservation 2017 v.11 pp. 125-133
ecology, environmental factors, farmers, livelihood, risk perception, rural communities, semiarid zones, uncertainty, Brazil
The impact of environmental changes is a major threat to livelihoods, especially for small farmers in semi-arid regions. Therefore, local communities undertake efforts to cope with these new environmental conditions and researchers try to understand the limits of possible adaptive strategies. Religiousness/spirituality are two important factors that can influence environmental awareness and adaptive responses to risks caused by natural phenomena. However, studies addressing the relationship between such factors are either scarce or based on anecdotal information. This article discusses the influence of religiousness/spirituality on the perception of environmental risks by farmers in a rural community in Brazil's northeast region, and their knowledge of adaptive strategies to deal with such concerns. Religiousness/spirituality can positively or negatively influence the perception of risk and knowledge of adaptive strategies when facing environmental uncertainty. We note that dimensions of religiousness/spirituality such as religious history, values/beliefs, commitment, and daily spiritual experiences influence wealth and the sharing of natural perceived risks, as well as adaptive strategies. Based on our results, we conclude that religiousness/spirituality dimensions exert both positive and negative effects on the perception of environmental risks and ways of coping with the impacts of rapid environmental changes.