12 Aug Smallholder farmers’ coping and adaptation strategies to climate change and variability in the central highlands of Ethiopia
Smallholder farmers’ coping and adaptation strategies to climate change and variability in the central highlands of Ethiopia
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This study describes the different coping and adaptation strategies used by smallholder farmers to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and variability in the central highlands of Ethiopia. A distinction was made between coping and adaptation strategies, respectively, as short-term and longer term measures. The study surveyed 200 farm households in three districts, and three focus group discussions and three key informant interviews were conducted in each district. All the surveyed farmers perceived at least one aspect of change in the local climate. Their perception of an increasing trend of temperature was supported by meteorological records, while their perception of declining annual rainfall was not supported by actual records in two of the three districts, where positive trends in rainfall were observed. Farmers identified changes in rainfall and drought as their major climate change-related risks. In response, farmers used different strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and variability. The most widely used coping strategy was selling livestock (85% of the respondents), followed by changing consumption pattern (76% of the respondents). Changing crop planting dates was the most preferred adaptation option (89% of the respondents), while irrigation as an adaptation strategy was used only by 10% of the surveyed farmers. Shortage of water for irrigation (83% of the respondents) and shortage of money to buy necessary inputs (77% of the respondents) were the major barriers to effective adaptation frequently cited in the study area. We conclude that adaptation policy should build on existing coping and adaptation strategies and focus on addressing barriers to the adoption of coping and adaptation measures at different scales.
Alemayehu, A. & Bewket, W. (2017) Smallholder farmers’ coping and adaptation strategies to climate change and variability in the central highlands of Ethiopia. Local Environment,22(7),825-839.DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2017.1290058