Assessing vulnerability to climate variability and change of focus crops small scale farmers in Wote Division-Makueni County, Kenya.
Borona, Pius Mwenda
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Climate variability and change are some of the most pressing environmental challenges of the globe and are associated with complexity and extreme events mainly drought and floods. Among small scale farming communities in Sub-Saharan Africa including Kenya, climate variability and change have been a more tasking challenge compared to the rest of the regions. There is little understanding of the vulnerability to climate change among such households in Wote based on their socio economic backgrounds. The main objective of the study was to determine the extent of vulnerability among small scale farmers in Wote division, Makueni County by specifically determining exposure, sensitivity and adaptation mechanisms as pertains climate extremes. The study was carried out between August and September 2013. The study targeted selected farmers cultivating drought tolerant sorghum, cow peas and pigeon peas which are some of the dominant multipurpose crops in the area and are also key means of food security. Random and purposive sampling methods were applied in identifying households cultivating all the three focus crops. Data collection methods and sources included the use of focused group discussions, semi structured questionnaires and secondary climate data from the meteorological department. The collected data was entered and cleaned using CSPro program and later exported to Ms Excel and SPSS for coding and analysis. Descriptive and inferential statistics approaches included correlation, chi square, non-parametric tests and regression. Household characteristics included main respondents and correspondents, 86% and 76% respectively, engaging in farming as the main occupation with 86% of household’s main income obtained from on farm produce. Results showed that households have been exposed to calamities in form of; drought, 100%: crop pests, 93%: crop diseases, 83% and erratic rains, 59% with drought ranking highly ( =1.06,=0.28).Crop diseases significantly related to occurrence of crop failure,2=24.860,p=0.000 and Cohen’s index=0.445 showing a medium relationship. Drought however did not show a significant relationship with crop failure, p=0.334.Temperature data indicated an annual trend of 0.21220C (R2=0.4881) per year with annual means varying significantly, p=0.002. Annual rainfall indicated an annual trend of -0.0708mm (R2=0.0016) with non-significant seasonal variation, p=0.166, p=0.189 for March-May and October-December rains. Average number of calamity adaptation means were 8, =8.53,=2.230,with key mechanisms being pesticide use, 32.5%:drought resistant crops,65%:crop diversification,13% and terracing, 28%. A multiple regression model F (9, 51) =2.655, p=0.013, R2=0.319 indicated that age, gender and acreage influenced adaptation means significantly: p<0.05), p=0.027, 0.043, 0.011 respectively. Further vulnerability analysis indicated most of the households; 79% experienced more than 2 months of food insecure months ( =3.75,=1.49) with such food insecurity correlating significantly with households income (p=0.001,=-.316). Results demonstrate vulnerability due to high dependence on rain fed farming with minimal alternative income and instances of food shortage .The study mainly recommends adoption of alternative income activities, including on farm value addition to supplement farm based income and at the same time enhancement of indigenous and effective modern adaptation mechanisms to enhance adaptive capacity.