Adaptation to climate change in Ethiopia and South Africa: options and constraints

  • Climate change is expected to adversely affect agricultural production in Africa. Because
    agricultural production remains the main source of income for most rural communities in
    the region, adaptation of the agricultural sector is imperative to protect the livelihoods of the
    poor and to ensure food security. A better understanding of farmers’ perceptions of climate
    change, ongoing adaptation measures, and the decision-making process is important to
    inform policies aimed at promoting successful adaptation strategies for the agricultural
    sector. Using data from a survey of 1800 farm households in South Africa and Ethiopia, this
    study presents the adaptation strategies used by farmers in both countries and analyzes the
    factors influencing the decision to adapt. We find that the most common adaptation
    strategies include: use of different crops or crop varieties, planting trees, soil conservation,
    changing planting dates, and irrigation. However, despite having perceived changes in
    temperature and rainfall, a large percentage of farmers did not make any adjustments to
    their farming practices. The main barriers to adaptation cited by farmers were lack of access
    to credit in South Africa and lack of access to land, information, and credit in Ethiopia. A
    probit model is used to examine the factors influencing farmers’ decision to adapt to
    perceived climate changes. Factors influencing farmers’ decision to adapt include wealth,
    and access to extension, credit, and climate information in Ethiopia; and wealth, government
    farm support, and access to fertile land and credit in South Africa. Using a pooled
    dataset, an analysis of the factors affecting the decision to adapt to perceived climate
    change across both countries reveals that farmers were more likely to adapt if they had
    access to extension, credit, and land. Food aid, extension services, and information on
    climate change were found to facilitate adaptation among the poorest farmers.Weconclude
    that policy-makers must create an enabling environment to support adaptation by increasing
    access to information, credit and markets, and make a particular effort to reach smallscale
    subsistence farmers, with limited resources to confront climate change.

  • Elizabeth Bryan, Temesgen T. Deressa, Glwadys A. Gbetibouo, et al.

  • e.bryan@cgiar.org

  • Journal Article

  • Environmental Science & Policy

  • 12

  • 4

  • 413-426

  • 2009-06-00

  • 1462-9011

  • 10.1016/j.envsci.2008.11.002

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  • East Africa