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Water Reform and the Resilience of Small Business People in Drought-affected Agricultural Communities

  • Year: 2009
  • Author: Schwarz, Imogen; McRae Williams, Pam
  • Journal Name: Rural Society
  • Journal Number: Vol. 19, No. 3
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: Victoria

The impact of drought on rural communities in Australia has been the subject of considerable research. Less well understood are the impacts of drought on rural small businesses and the mechanisms they use to adapt or cope through extended dry periods. In this study, strategies these businesses draw upon to manage this adversity are identified and the influence that a more secure water supply has on their resilience is investigated. Interviews with ten small business operators situated in two rural towns - one with and one without a secure water supply - in drought-affected north western Victoria are comparatively analysed. The study found that adaptive strategies existed at the individual, business and community level, and despite water supply differences the identified strategies were similar across the study areas. Water supply security however was perceived as important in terms of broader regional sustainability and liveability of rural communities.

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