Perception of Farmers on Climate Variability and Coping Strategies among Farming Communities of Bufundi Subcatchment, Kabale District, South Western Uganda
Global climate variability is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. Due to inadequacy in infrastructure and over dependency on natural resources, developing countries are more vulnerable to climate variability effects. The main objective of the study was to assess perception of farmers to climate variability effects and coping strategies among farming communities in Bufundi Sub-catchment. The specific objectives of the study were to (i) evaluate climate trends in Bufundi sub-catchment from 1991 to 2011, (ii) assess Bufundi farmers perceptions on effects of climate variability, (iii) establish coping and adaptation strategies adopted by farmers in response to climate variability effects, and (iv) evaluate mechanisms in enhancing community resilience to climate variability effect in Bufundi sub-catchment, Kabale district south western Uganda. Rainfall and temperature data covering the period from 1991-2011 were acquired from the Department of Meteorology and analyzed. Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to 95 respondents, and three focus group discussions conducted using guiding questions. Key informant interviews and field observations were also conducted. Annual rainfall and temperature were subjected to regression analysis for temporal trends, and to ANOVA for testing variability. Semi-structured questionnaire were subjected to descriptive statistics to establish household perceptions on climate variability and how it has affected availability of resources, coping strategies adopted by farmers in response to climate variability effects. Chisquare (χ2) test was used to test for association between different household coping strategies among different households. Qualitative data was transcribed and organized under different themes and coded for analysis. Annual rainfall amount and average maximum temperature did not follow any significant linear trend; while minimum temperature increased gradually with time (R2=0.476). Respondents experienced floods (83.2%) and landslides (92.6%) as the major hazards linked to extreme climatic events in the micro-catchment. They also perceived a moderate increase in temperature of which 38.9% of respondents ranked it moderate. Farmers in Bufundi sub-catchment have adopted different coping strategies to climate variability which include: rainwater harvesting, improved crop varieties, soil and water conservation measures, alternative sources of livelihoods such as brick lying and extensive farming. The study recommended that the existing legal and institutional framework should be strengthened, land management options, irrigation, and awareness creation.