adaptation

The Kenyan government may be pushed into reconsidering its current ban on genetically modified (GM) foods, as the technology appears to be winning support from some farmers struggling to deal with climate stresses.  In Kenya's driest counties, there is increasing demand for GM crops because of their potential to improve food security and increase yields.  However, some local farmers remain apprehensive; they argue that research regarding the degree to which GM crops increase yields remains unsupported, and they pose serious environmental risks.

GEC journal

This study examines the ways in which the adaptive capacity of households to climatic events varies within communities and is mediated by institutional and landscape changes. We present qualitative and quantitative data from two Maasai communities differentially exposed to the devastating drought of 2009 in Northern Tanzania. We show how rangeland fragmentation combined with the decoupling of institutions and landscapes are affecting pastoralists’ ability to cope with drought. Our data highlight that mobility remains a key coping mechanism for pastoralists to avoid cattle loss during a drought. However, mobility is now happening in new ways that require not only large amounts of money but new forms of knowledge and connections outside of customary reciprocity networks. Those least affected by the drought, in terms of cattle lost, were those with large herds who were able to sell some of their cattle and to pay for private access to pastures outside of Maasai areas. Drawing on an entitlements framework, we argue that the new coping mechanisms are not available to all, could be making some households more vulnerable to climate change, and reduce the adaptive capacity of the overall system as reciprocity networks and customary institutions are weakened. As such, we posit that adaptive capacity to climate change is uneven within and across communities, is scale-dependent, and is intimately tied to institutional and landscape changes.

Experts working on behalf of international development organisations need better tools to assist land managers in developing countries maintain their livelihoods, as climate change puts pressure on the ecosystem services that they depend upon. However, current understanding of livelihood vulnerability to climate change is based on a fractured and disparate set of theories and methods. This review therefore combines theoretical insights from sustainable livelihoods analysis with other analytical frameworks (including the ecosystem services framework, diffusion theory, social learning, adaptive management and transitions management) to assess the vulnerability of rural livelihoods to climate change. This integrated analytical framework helps diagnose vulnerability to climate change,whilst identifying and comparing adaptation options that could reduce vulnerability, following four broad steps: i) determine likely level of exposure to climate change, and how climate change might interact with existing stresses and other future drivers of change; ii) determine the sensitivity of stocks of capital assets and flows of ecosystem services to climate change; iii) identify factors influencing decisions to develop and/or adopt different adaptation strategies, based on innovation or the use/substitution of existing assets; and iv) identify and evaluate potential trade-offs between adaptation options. The paper concludes by identifying interdisciplinary research needs for assessing the vulnerability of livelihoods to climate change.

savannas of our birth cover page

Savannas of our birth: People, wildlife, and change in East Africa, written by Robin Reid, tells the sweeping story of the role that East African savannas played in human evolution, how people, livestock, and wildlife interact in the region today, and how these relationships might shift as the climate warms, the world globalizes, and human populations grow.

In Zambia, the weather is changing — the rainy season begins later in the year than it once did, and its duration is now unpredictable, creating confusion about the best time for planting.  Traditional means of weather forecasting for planting and harvesting are no longer working as they once did.  Female farmers may be more prone to economic difficulties than males in part because they lack access to technology and technological know-how that can help them adapt to climate change. This article suggests women must be equipped with knowledge systems that help them implement farming strategies that increase adaptive capacity in the face of climate change.  

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) approved US $88 million in grant financing for climate change adaptation efforts in 9 vulnerable countries. This is funded by IFAD's new Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), which channels climate finance to smallholder farmers so that they can improve their resilience to climate change.  These ASAP-supported projects will benefit poor rural communities in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Djibouti, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan and Viet Nam. 

Climate change is already affecting the livelihoods of West African smallholder farmers who rely on rain-fed agricultural techniques, and it is expected to make food shortages more acute as the region’s population continues to grow. However, some experts have proposed that an integrated approach to land management that ensures sustainable policies could help agriculture-dependent West Africa cope with the looming effects of climate change.

Farmers facing long periods of dry weather and floods have expressed hope that a new climate change adaptation initiative being rolled out in Tanzania and Malawi will spell an end to dismal crop yields.

The Climate Services Adaptation Programme launched in November 2013 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) presents a window of opportunity for African farmers to use scientific knowledge to battle weather challenges.

According to a report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and partner organisations, some areas of Kenya may receive more rainfall as climate patterns shift. Although climate predictions suggest that rainfall will increase in some areas, decreases in rainfall may be seen in some of the most productive agriculture provinces.   Initiatives to help pastoralists adapt to these uncertain futures is underway.  Local groups are partnering with international agencies to promote "Climate-Smart Villages" that provide practical adaptation options to improve food security and resilience.

Farmers in Dodoma, Tanzania have long relied on traditional weather forecasting methods to decide when to plant their maize crops. Since 2007, ongoing drought has threatened harvests. The FarmSMS initiative, led by the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA), aims to help farmers reduce the risk of crop failure by delivering real-time weather information to mobile handsets that can inform planting decisions

Tanzania has set a goal to become a middle-income economy by 2025, a feat that may only be accomplished if the government can successfully increase agricultural production.  To reach this goal, Tanzania has ushered in a coterie of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to help support agriculture all along the supply chain. Enterprising firms promising better seeds, fertilizers and outputs are entering into the mix. And the government is also supporting the growth of large farms, too, which they say could employ technology to assist small farmers via local agreements. Still, the government of Tanzania faces challenges on many fronts, including resistance from farmers reluctant to change traditional agricultural practices, and the ongoing difficulty of adapting to a changing—and less predictable—climate.

Hybrid seeds are growing in popularity as they offer higher potential yields under good conditions.  However, as local climate regimes become more variable and unpredictable, local farmers in Zimbabwe are opting for traditional crop varieties. Some farmers believe that these more traditional varieties enhance resilience under unpredictable conditions by increasing crop diversity and food variety throughout the year.  Still, agricultural scientists consider hybrid varieties the better choice in terms of overall productivity and market integration potential.  

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