Farmers’ Perceptions and Adaptation to Climate Variability and Climate Change in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia
Keywords:Climate variability, Climate change, Perception, Adaptation, Rift valley, Ethiopia
Agriculture is one sector that is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The impact of climate change is severe in Africa where agriculture is the main source of daily subsistence and adaptive capacity is low. This study was conducted to understand historical climate trends, perception of smallholder farmers on climate change and their current adaptation mechanisms at four sites (Meki, Melkassa, Miesso and Ziway) in Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia. The study involved analysis of historical climate data and survey using semi-structured questionnaires. The results showed the existence of high interannual rainfall variability within season and sites. The number of rainy days exhibited a declining trend at Meki in both belg (FMAM) and kiremt (JJAS) seasons, and increasing trend at Melkassa in the belg (FMAM) season. While an increasing trend was observed at Miesso and Ziway in the kiremt (JJAS) season and no change in trend during the belg (FMAM) season at both sites. The minimum and maximum temperature showed increasing trend at Miesso and Ziway, whereas no change was observed at Melkassa. As opposed to the cessation of the rainfall, onset date of rainfall was highly variable at all sites. Farmers had a good perception on climate change and most believed that the environment has changed over the years due to various human activities. Erratic distribution, reduction in amount, late onset and early withdrawal of the rain and increased heat were major problems mentioned as the reasons for frequent crop failures in the respective areas. Most of the farmers cope with the impacts of climate change through various adaptation strategies such as growing short maturing varieties, adopting recently released varieties, application of fertilizers and irrigation to increase yield per unit area, and to some extent looking for off-farm part time activities among others.
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