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The effects of adaptation to climate change on income of households in rural Ethiopia

Berhe, Melaku, Hoag, Dana, Tesfay, Girmay, Tadesse, Tewodros, Oniki, Shunji, Kagatsume, Masaru, Keske, CatherineM. H.
Pastoralism 2017 v.7 no.1 pp. 12
arid lands, climate change, data collection, drought, drying, farm income, forage production, hay, household income, households, humans, livelihood, livestock, livestock feeds, models, people, questionnaires, rain, straw, temperature, Ethiopia
Climate change is one of the most serious impediments to agricultural prosperity in Ethiopia, especially where livestock is concerned. In particular, rural farming communities in the drylands of the Afar region are severely exposed to the impacts of climate change, with stark reminders from repeating droughts followed by crop failure and livestock decimation. Locals have a long history of applying adaptation measures to maintain their sustenance. However, a growing literature challenges whether these traditional methods can continue to sustain local livelihoods. This study identifies how pastoral, semi-pastoral, agro-pastoral and mixed-farming communities in Afar perceive and adapt to climate change and whether these practices have brought about any improvement in farm income. A panel data set of five years was gathered using structured questionnaires from a sample of 313 households. Household heads pointed out indicators to identify climate-related stress such as erratic rainfall, drought, temperature change, drying of water sources, prevalence of diseases and lack of human and livestock feed. A fixed effects quantitative model on the panel data was estimated to verify the effect of adaptation strategies on income of household heads. We found that the main adaptation strategies that significantly influenced household income levels were forage production (hay and straw), access to water sources, livestock diversification and migration. The implication is that people severely affected by climate change and living in a situation demanding urgent solutions can actively apply various adaptation strategies if the strategies are linked to the creation of sustainable income benefits. Thus, integrated approaches comprising adaptation methods and expected benefits are an important way to induce farming communities to address challenges related to climatic change.