Smallholder Farmers? Perspectives on Climatic Variability and Adaptation Strategies in East Africa: The Case of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Taita and Machakos Hills in Kenya uri icon

abstract

  • Climate change is expected to have serious economic and social impacts in East Africa, particularly on rural farmers whose livelihoods largely depend on rain-fed agriculture, hence adaptation is required to offset projected drawbacks of climate change on crop productivity. This paper examines farmers' perceptions and understanding of climatic variability, coping strategies adopted and factors that influence the choice of a particular adaptation. The study uses cross section data collected from 510 farmers in three mountain gradients sites, namely; Mount Kilimanjaro of Tanzania, Taita andMachakos Hills of Kenya. Farmers? perceptions were compared to actual trend in meteorological records over the last thirty years (1981-2010). The result revealed that farmers in East Africa were partly aware of climate variability, mainly in temperature and rainfall patterns. Many respondents reported that conditions are drier and rainfall timing is becoming less predictable. The perception of farmers on temperature and rainfall were in line with recorded meteorological data, but contrary with that of recorded rainfall in Machakos which was perceived to be decreasing by the farmers. Farmersperceived changes in rainfall and temperature to have negative effects on the production and management of crops. The common adaptation strategies used by farmers include water harvesting, soil conservation techniques and shiftingof planting periods. The most important variables affecting farmers choices in regards to adaptation option were, lack of access to credit, farming experience and household size. As a conclusion, there is a need for these factors to be taken into account in the development and implementation of smallholder farmers? adaptation strategies to climate variability in East Africa. Additionally, dedicated capacity building and extensive outreach initiatives on adaptation through governments, researchers, policy-makers and the farmers groups themselves are needed to achieve large scale success

publication date

  • 2015