Adaptation and Coping Strategies to Climate Variability among Small-Scale Farmers in Arid and Semi-Arid Agro-Ecological Zones of Laikipia County, Kenya
Ndichu, Gitau D.
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Climate variability as expressed by droughts, heavy rainfall, flooding, intense temperatures, hail storms and cyclones pose a major threat to small-scale crop farmers. Arid and semi-arid regions are known to have hot and dry climate with low and erratic rainfall that varies widely both in spatial and temporal parameters. Unpredictable seasons have been exacerbating the perennial uncertainty of farmers in most parts of ASALs where subsistence farming is practiced. This study aimed at delineating the adaptation and mitigation strategies applied by small-scale farmers in Laikipia County due to climate variability. The research sample population was drawn from the agro-ecological zones which are determined by the climatic parameter patterns. The sample size was determined systematically using probability proportion to size sampling method. Questionnaires were administered in randomly sampled households in five arid and semi-arid regions, namely; Salama, Rumuruti, Ol Moran, Mukogondo and Ngobit which experience frequent drought related challenges. An interview schedule was prepared and administered to local leaders. Rainfall and temperature data from the Kenya Meteorological department between 1970 -2018 were obtained to gather further information on climate variability in Laikipia County. The quantitative data collected were then analysed using descriptive statistic and presented in charts, tables and graphs. The qualitative data at household level were collected through focused group discussions, key informant interviews, and observations and were analysed thematically according to the set objectives of the study. More secondary data were derived from a review of existing literature and records from relevant institutions.These data were then analysed using statistical Package for social Sciences (SPSS Version 22.0) Computer programme to generate descriptive statistics like frequency, mean, percentage and standard deviation. The results showed that, over the years (1970 – 2018), there was a decline in the precipitation in Laikipia County with an R2 value of 0.76%. During the same period, the maximum temperature tended to increase with R2 value of 17.41% .The average minimum monthly temperature also increased, R2 value of 14.24%. Further, the perception of the farmers was sought using multivariate probit model (MVP). The results indicated that 92.3% had perceived changes in climate.Further,54.5% had noted that the rainfall was receding while 76.0% had noted an increase in temperature. The MVP model showed that crops production had declined and seasons changed. The study showed that the small scale farmers had varied adaptation strategies depending on; their locality, climate, topography and availability of resources for both on-farm and off-farm. Among the adaptation strategies employed by the farmers included use of drought resistant crops at 4.72%, irrigation along the riparian areas at 11.6%.Others provided labour to the green house farms at 23% and reducing their livestock at 8.6% . The study recommended that the small-scale farmers need to be supplied with water, certified seeds and technical assistance from Agricultural extension officers. Farmers reported several barriers in the implementation of adaptation strategies that included; accessibility to seed varieties, lack of skilled labor, advanced farm implements, climate change information, and capacity to learn and apply techniques in their daily practice. The information gathered from the study was intended to improve the social capacity of the small-scale crop farmers in addressing adaptation strategies and the policy/decision makers to formulate policies aimed at addressing the challenges faced in Laikipia and ASAL regions.