Impact of Climate Variability on Food Security in Gachoka Constituency in Mbeere District, Embu County, Kenya
Mwaniki, Paul Ireri
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Climate change has become one of the most pressing issues facing Kenya. Warming temperatures and decreasing precipitation levels over the last 30 years have led to innumerable weather anomalies causing droughts, floods, unseasonal precipitation, falling ground water tables, all impacting on food production. While it is projected that further change in climatic conditions will take place over the coming decades, the impacts of these environmental stresses on the living conditions and livelihoods of Kenyans have already been significant and adverse. Among all population groups, rural communities in Kenya are particularly more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their strong dependence on rain fed agriculture for living. This research was carried out in Gachoka constituency, Embu County in Kenya. It focused on assessing the impact of climate variability on food security. The specific objective of this study was to analyze the effects of climate variability on quantity of food harvests at household level in Gachoka constituency, assessed the role of knowledge on climate variability impacts on food security in Gachoka constituency and identified the climate variability information needs by peasant farmers in Gachoka constituency between 1982 and 2012. Descriptive research design was employed. Simple random sampling was used to select 70 farmers and purposeful sampling to select 20 agricultural officers and 10 religious leaders. A total of 100 respondents were interviewed. The data collected was analyzed using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) and excel to generate frequencies, tables, pie charts, graphs, percentages and moving averages. The finding shows that there is significant relationship between food harvest and climate variability ():2=62.234, P- value= 0.002, df=1 and n=100) and thus climate variability caused low food harvests at household level in Gachoka constituency. The study also revealed that there was significant relationship between Knowledge on climate variability and food security, (t=43.741, p, value= 0.253, df =2 and n=IOO) and therefore Knowledge on climate variability among small scale farmers threatened food security in Gachoka Constituency. The results further shows that, there was a high need for climate variability information and food security among the community in Gachoka Constituency, (t=24.324, p, value= 0.003, df =1 and n=IOO). The study therefore recommended that more information on climate variability to be availed to the farmers in order to prepare them on how to mitigate and prepare for climate variability thus ensuring sustainable food production. Farmers should also consider planting drought resistant crops to ensure stable food supply and reduced dependency on relief foods. Further the findings would also help in formulating policies and establishing practices in mitigating the impacts of climate variability in the country in order to ensure the country is food secure. The study suggested for further research on the best strategies on reducing subsistence farmers' vulnerability to climate change as well as mitigating impacts of climate change on indigenous food security in rural communities.