Farmers’ perception on climate change, their vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change, and their adaptation strategies
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The effects of climate change vary across regions, households, individuals and farming systems, and so do farmers’ adaptation strategies. In the Amhara region, little is known about how climate change affects rainfed farmers’ livelihood and what strategies households are using to adapt. Furthermore, factors governing farmers’ decisions to adapt to climate change and the impact of those decisions on livelihoods are little known. Thus, farmers’ perception on climate change, their vulnerability to the adverse consequences of climate change, and the availability of adaptation efforts need to be better understood, so that resilience to current climate variability as well as to the risks associated with longer-term climate change can be gauged and appropriate actions taken to increase or restore resilience. This research was conducted to achieve that aim. The objective was to assess farmers’ perceptions on climate change and analyze the biophysical and socio-economic factors determining their exposure and adaptive capacity and adaptation to climate change. In Ethiopia, the agricultural sector is dominated by small-scale mixed crop livestock production with very low productivity and high vulnerability to climate change. Drought, which is frequent in Ethiopia, can shrink household farm production by up to 90% of a normal years output and could lead to the death of livestock and human beings. In response to the recurrent droughts and related environmental calamities, farmers in Ethiopia have developed different coping strategies. In the Ethiopian smallholder farmers mixed crop-livestock production system the farmers use a combinations of wide ranges of adaptation and coping strategies. Thus, this study tried to systematically combine those adaptation strategies. Moreover, the previous studies failed to differentiate between the long and short-term responses of farmers for the weather extremes. Therefore, this study differentiated coping and adaptation strategies as adaptation comes from experience through generations and is well planned long-term strategy to overcome any weather extreme, while coping indicates the immediate reaction to any of the weather extremes to reduce its effects in the short run only. Hence, this study analyzed farmers’ perceptions of climate change in Gumara Maksegnit watershed, their adaptation strategies and factors that govern their choices of adaptations towards climate change and its impacts.