Increasing social-ecological resilience within small-scale agriculture in conflict-affected Guatemala
This article in the Ecology and Society Journal, focuses on the challenge of increasing social-ecological resilience in small-scale agriculture is particularly in the socioeconomically and agroecologically marginalized Western Highlands of Guatemala. Climate change is a threat to agriculture in this region and adaptation strategies are challenged by the context of a society torn apart by decades of violent conflict. The largely indigenous population in the Western Highlands has suffered widespread discrimination for centuries. The armed conflict has left a legacy of a deeply divided society, with communities often suspicious of outsider interventions and in many cases with neighbors pitted against each other. The authors use the example of the Buena Milpa agricultural development project to demonstrate how grassroots approaches to collective action, conflict prevention, and social-ecological resilience, linking local stakeholder dynamics to the broader institutional and governance context, can bear fruit amidst postconflict development challenges. Examples of microwatershed management and conservation of local maize varieties illustrate opportunities to foster community-level climate adaptation strategies within small-scale farming systems even in deeply divided societies. The Buena Milpa case studies suggest that nurturing the re-emergence of this resilience among poor and marginalized groups requires the brokering role of reputable and trusted local organizations able to navigate a challenging governance environment.