Climate variability and response strategies among the Gadamoji agro-pastoralists of Marsabit County, Kenya
Boru, Halkano Jillo
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Climate is perceived to be changing thus calling for livelihood adaptation strategies and integrated understanding at local level to guide in developing climate-resilient livelihoods. The objective of this study was to assess perception of climate variability, impacts and household response strategies among agro-pastoralist in Gadamoji division. Saku District of Marsabit County in the periodI998-2012. Out of 1335 households, one hundred and thirty three (133) were randomly selected from four sub-locations that make up the division. Data was gathered using structured questionnaires and interviews administered to households as well as three Focused Group Discussion. The study data was statistically analyzed and results discussed and presented in graphs and tables. The results revealed that local people have noticed rainfall and temperature variability. The perceived changes include changes in various aspects of rainfall and increase in temperature. Indeed, they were able to link their livelihoods albeit subjectively to climate variability with79.3% of the respondents acknowledging that the changes have adversely and significantly impacted on their households' sources of income. Main impacts identified include repeated crop failure, reduced and/or loss of livestock holdings, increased households' poverty and rampant water shortage. Besides, most respondents anticipate that these effects will worsen in future with majority attributing the variability to destruction of natural forest. The study also found that most households have adjusted their crops farming and animal husbandry practices in response to climate variability effects over the last 15 years preceding the study. Direct nature-based livelihoods (livestock tending and crop cultivation) were reduced and alternative non-farm activities (casual and wage employment, sale of wood products and trade) increased. In fact, only 24 % and 2.1 % of the respondents consider livestock rearing and crop farming respectively as their main sources of income. The study, however, revealed that though climate was a key factor, other social factors also accelerated the changes in livelihoods strategies in the division. The study further revealed a number of innovative response strategies pursued by households. These are: diversification to off-farm incomes, switch to drought-resistant livestock types, saving of assets for lean seasons as well as kitchen gardening practices. These measures are however found inadequate and are manly selfadaptation practices pursued by households in a disorganized ways. In exploring desired livelihoods options to future climate effects, the study found that most households prefer to invest in small scale irrigation, engage in non-farm income activities, diversify herd composition, practice agro-forestry, invest in livestock insurance as well as undertake water harvesting. Further, the study revealed that both current and future strategies are challenged by poverty and lack of capital, climate uncertainty and unreliable climate information and inadequate knowledge on other livelihoods options. These constraints can be alleviated through awareness on climate variability, support to existing livelihoods strategies and assets, improve access to market information, enhance access to credit services and adoption of conflict management strategies. Otherwise, achieving livelihoods resilience and food security in the division will remain delusion for years to come.