Evaluating the vulnerability context of livelihoods and responses in a changing climate condition: insights for sustainable livelihood in different agro-ecologies of Gurage Zone

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Addis Ababa University


Climate variability and change profoundly affect rural livelihood systems in Ethiopia, particularly those built around climate-sensitive sectors. Generally, the objective of this study was to evaluate the vulnerability context of livelihoods in a changing climate condition and to examine farmers' responses for sustainable livelihood to support effective ex-ante decision-making in different agroecologies of Gurage zone, Southern Ethiopia. The dissertation used a mixed research design to address the objectives. Representative 357 farm households were selected using a multistage sampling technique and data was collected using a semi-structured questionnaire. Complementarily, 2 focus group discussions and 12 key informant interviews for each agroecologies were carried-out. Agro-ecological variation of climate indices for extreme precipitation and temperature was analyzed for the time 1986–2016. The study used different data analysis methods, including the Livelihood Vulnerability Index (LVI) and Livelihood Vulnerability Index– Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (LVI–IPCC) to analyze livelihood vulnerability; the trend and magnitude of changes in precipitation and temperature extreme were examined by the Mann–Kendall (MK) test and Sen's slope estimator, respectively; adaptation difference between agro-ecologies was measured by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and descriptive statistics; the Multinomial Logit Model (MNL) used to analyze determinants of the choice of adaptation strategies among farm households. The results indicate that there had been consistent warming trends in the study agro-ecologies. While inconsistent changes in precipitation extremes with insignificance trends were observed. The duration of extreme precipitation trends showed inconsistency among the studied agro-ecologies. The livelihood vulnerability analysis revealed that the lowland agro-ecological zone was more vulnerable to a changing climate condition, although there was a difference in components relative value in the three agro-ecological settings. Increasing temperature and declining precipitation are perceived by the majority of the respondents. Similarly, sampled farmers reported that the frequency of extreme events like drought, flood, frost, and storm had increased. In response to the adverse effects of climate variability and change, farmers employed adaptation strategies. But, a significant agro-ecological variation in farm management practices was found. The result from the multinomial logit model showed that different factors determine the adoption of adaptation measures. The result revealed that the adoption of crop management related strategy to a changing climate is significantly and positively affected by education level, farming experience, and extension advice. A positive and significant influence of sex, household size, credit service, access to market, and lowland agroecology was observed on the adoption of soil and water conservation measures. Context-specific interventions in response to a changing climate condition are recommended. Due to the availability of relatively large farm-land and less labor out-migration, crop management measures like drought-resistant and improved varies and adoption of soil and water conservation measures are recommended in lowland agro-ecological zone to increase the productivity of agricultural activities and thereby to sustain the livelihood of farmers. While, diversification of livelihood and plantation of Enset is recommended in both midland and highland agro-ecological zones since there is a land shortage, migration of youths, and population density. Similarly, the results acknowledge the role of institutional support in terms of education, climate information, credit, extension services, and market access to increase farmers’ readiness to implement adaptation strategies in response to the impacts of climate-related disasters, to improve livelihood, and support disaster risk reduction efforts.



climate extremes; trend; livelihood vulnerability; determinant; agroecology; Gurage