Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Publications: Local perceptions and responses to climate change and variability: the case of Laikipia district, Kenya by S. A. Ogalleh; C. R. Vogl; J. Eitzinger; M. Hauser (Jan 2013)


an Eldis Resource

Local perceptions and responses to climate change and variability: the case of Laikipia district, Kenya
Empirical study on smallholders' perceptions of climate variability in Kenya 

Authors: S. A. Ogalleh; C. R. Vogl; J. Eitzinger; M. Hauser 
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2012

This empirical analysis of smallholders' perceptions of, and adaptation to, climate change demonstrates the value and importance of local knowledge in the Laikipia district, Kenya. The paper recognises that agricultural policies are presently short of mechanisms to promote farmers' adaptation, and that this has hindered agricultural production. 

Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used, including interviews and focus groups, in the collection of data from Umande and Muhonia. Perceptions of climate change variability were compared to historic empirical data and found to be largely consistent. Both sources describe a worsening situation, one which around 85 per cent of farmers agreed constituted a shift from a 'good' climate (at time of settlement) to the present-day 'bad' climate. Trends include a decrease in rainfall, and increases in temperature, frosts, hunger and crop disease. 

A significant trend identified both by meteorological data and local knowledge is that of greater frequency and severity of droughts. Local awareness of this fact has already influenced their coping and adaptation strategies (such as migration), and could act as entry points for decision- and policymakers to enhance adaptive capacity.

The paper concludes with the following recommendations regarding the need to harness the benefits of integrating local knowledge.
  • Smallholders are able to perceive micro-climate variations and demonstrate an ability to cope with and adapt to these changes. This local knowledge must be integrated into policy to improve agricultural practice. In this way, insight can be gained into the actual needs and desires of smallholders with regard to adaptation.
  • Econometric analysis should be undertaken to identify exactly who is adapting to climatic variability, so as to provide information on possible future adaptation directions.
  • Local knowledge is specific in time, place and culture. This makes it a crucial ingredient to solving local problems. Farmers, non-governmental organisations and the government need to work together to integrate local problems into policy for the benefit of smallholders.
  • Such integration of local knowledge both increases legitimacy of the farmers' decision-making, and gives greater consistency to agricultural policy. It may be necessary to forego prescribing adaptation interventions (which the farmers may view as unattractive) in favour of cooperation.

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