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Climate Change Adaptation and Vulnerability: A Case of Rain Dependent Small-Holder Farmers in Selected Districts in Zambia

DOI: 10.4236/ajcc.2014.34034, PP. 388-403

Keywords: Vulnerability, Food Security, Livelihood, Adaptation, Climate Change

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Abstract:

Food crop production by small-holder farmers in Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change, given high dependence on rainfall coupled with limited adaptive capacity. In Zambia, smallholder farmers contribute about 79% of national stable food requirements particularly maize. This paper attempted to establish levels of food security in each of the three agro-ecological zones of Zambia, and evaluated the current adaptive measures of rain dependent small-holder farmers against climate change risks. The challenges farmers are facing in adapting to the change risks were identified and livelihood vulnerability assessed. The findings indicate that rain dependent small-holder farmers in Zambia are highly vulnerable to weather related shocks which impact greatly on their food production; and that the levels of vulnerability vary across gender and per agro-ecological zone. After the evaluation of scenarios including staple food crop yields (maize), the authors conclude that most rain-fed small-holder farmers in Zambia (about 70%) are facing considerable hardships in adapting to the changing climate, which in turn, undermines their contribution to food security. While efforts by government have been made to assist farmers towards climate change adaptation, there still remains many challenges to achieve the desired outcomes. Most farmers (66%) are unable to afford certain alternatives, such as those of agro-forestry or conservation. Difficulties in accessing markets, poor road infrastructure, fluctuating market prices, high costs and late deliveries of farming in-puts were found to be among the major challenges that farmers are facing in Zambia. There are also no systematic early warning systems in place against natural hazards and disasters. This makes farming a difficult undertaking in Zambia.

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