Perceptions, Vulnerability and Livelihood Adaptation of Smallholder Farmers to Climate Change: Evidence from Kembata Tembaro Zone, Southern Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Climate change is one of the most complex problems of our time presenting unique challenges for societies. This study explores perceptions, vulnerability and livelihood adaptation of smallholder farmers to climate change in Kembata Tembaro zone, southern Ethiopia. More specifically it seeks to analyze perceptions of climate change, examine vulnerability of farmers, and explore adaptive capacity and adaptation strategies of smallholder farmers. The study deployed comparative case study research design to analyze perceptions, vulnerability and adaptive capacity and adaptation to climate change in five livelihood zones. Primary data were collected from 508 randomly selected farming households from five livelihood zones using structured questionnaires, interviews, focus group discussions and observations. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods are used for data collection and analysis. A modified form of Sustainable Livelihoods Framework is deployed as analytical tool to investigate vulnerability context, livelihood assets, and desired outcomes. For analysis of perception to climate change, qualitative and quantitative methods were employed. For analysis of factors influencing perceptions to climate change, binary logistic regression model was used. The result revealed that farmers‟ perception to climate change is expressed in terms of increase in temperature, decrease in rainfall, change in timing of rain, change in the onset and cessation of rain, and erratic rainfall pattern. The perception results is in tandem with secondary data trend analysis of temperature and rainfall from 1984 to 2017 using Coefficient of Variation, Mann–Kendall test and Sen‟s slope estimator, indicating that there is an increasing trend of temperature, a decreasing trend of rainfall and high rainfall and temperature variability in annual and seasonal analysis. The binary logistic regression result indicated that perception of farmers to climate change is influenced by sex, farming experience, land slope and vegetation covers. For analysis of vulnerability to climate change, Livelihood Vulnerability Index approach was used, and the result indicated that coffee livelihood zone is the most vulnerable to climate change, whereas, ginger livelihood zone is the least vulnerable to climate change. The result further revealed that local level socio-economic and biophysical conditions affect the level of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of farmers in different livelihood zones. For analysis of farmers‟ adaptive capacity, adaptation to climate change and factors influencing farmers‟ adaptation to climate change, a combination of household survey, composite adaptive capacity index and binary logistic regression model are employed. The result revealed that farmers took a number of measures to adapt to climate change within their capacity. Farming experience, access to technology, farm income, access to electricity and land slope are factors significantly influencing adaptation strategies of farmers in the study area. Efforts are needed to build the adaptive capacity and adaptation of farmers through technology transfer, enhancing their farm income and awareness creation, among others. The result leads to conclude that livelihood adaptation measures to climate change should take into account the location specific livelihood zone settings and production systems.



Climate Change, Ethiopia, Kembata Tembaro Zone, Mann-Kendall, Livelihood Zone, Perceptions, Vulnerability, Adaptation