Climate Change Effects on Food Security and Coping Strategies by Women Groups in Gikindu Division, Kiharu Sub County, Murang’a County, Kenya
Gakuu, Kamau Joseph
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The study sought to find out the climate change effects on food security, and the community coping strategies in Gikindu Division in Murang’a County. The study was in response to the profound climate change effects over the years leading to depressed rainfall and increased temperatures exposing the farmers to the risk of diminished returns from the production activities. Gikindu area sits on a low agro-ecological zone five and six which is prone to persistent crop failure attributed to the vagaries of climate change. It was established that climate change effects have been felt in the area, and the same had caused a negative effects on food security, coping strategies employed to mitigate it. A descriptive research design was employed to achieve the desired data in the area. The members of the women groups actively engaged in agricultural activities served as the target respondents. The women groups engaged in agricultural activities were eleven in number and had a total of one hundred and eighty members. Data was collected by use of questionnaires which were administered to group members, focus group discussions which were used to reach the group officials, an interview schedule for the Divisional Agricultural Officer, an observation checklist and a document analysis guide. Data was analyzed by use of quantitative analysis which entailed descriptive and inferential statistics and qualitative data was analyzed by use of content analysis. The analyzed data was presented in frequency tables, pie charts and bar graphs. The study found out that: most of the respondents perceived the difference in rainfall and temperature levels to be profound thus confirmation that over a period of time, there had been noticeable variation in terms of the rainfall amounts and the temperature levels. It was observed that majority (55%) of the respondents considered there to have been improvement of their agricultural production activities by virtue of participation in the group activities thus confirmation that membership in the women groups had impacted positively on the households’ economic mainstays. The climate change phenomenon had occasioned suffering to the farmers. Likewise, majority of the families in the area were entirely dependent on the rains for their agricultural production activities exposing them to risk at the advent of crop failure. The study concluded that the challenges faced by farmers in the area are to a great extent as a result of the climate change that has taken place over time. The study also concluded that a considerable number of the families in the area had since lost hope in agricultural production and instead relied upon governmental relief supplies as a way of life. Farmers in the area had adopted creative coping strategies to help them overcome the effect of climate change. The coping strategies were found to be effective as they helped improve on the situation of food security in their families. The study recommends that; legal provisions should be put in place to ensure that farmers have access to information on climate change as a measure of forestalling the event of losses accruing from the agricultural production activities in unmitigated situations, the county government should put in place an integrated approach as pertains to invoking the participation of women in the agricultural production activities with a view of engendering food production to assure security. The national government through the ministry of Agriculture should ensure that farmers have both the information and the drought tolerant crops which can withstand the harsh weather conditions, ensure that water as a resource is harvested and harnessed in the requisite manner alongside encouraging members of the area to participate in organized farming groups activities.