Climate change and variability: perception and adaptation strategies of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists across different zones of Burkina Faso

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Due to the dependence of its economy on rainfed agriculture and livestock husbandry, Burkina Faso, like other Sahelian countries, is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Adaptation is needed to counteract anticipated drawbacks of climate change on crop and livestock productivity; therefore, we examined climate change perceptions of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists and analysed their adaptation strategies. To this end, focus group discussions were held in six villages distributed across three agro-ecological zones. In three of these sites, 162 farmers were also individually interviewed. Perceptions of farmers were compared to actual trends of different climatic parameters extracted from official long-term meteorological records (1988–2008). Results showed that farmers in Burkina Faso were partly aware of climate change, particularly of changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, but their perception did not match well with the recorded annual rainfall data in the southern Sahelian and Sudanian zones. The most important adaptation strategies mentioned by agro-pastoralists were crop diversification, combination of cropping and livestock operations, use of water harvesting technologies and anti-erosive measures such as half-moons or stone dikes. Strategies of pastoralists included seasonal, annual and permanent migration and taking up of cereal cropping. Logistic regression analysis indicated that agro-ecological zone, cultivated surface, ruminant herd size, household size and education were the most important variables affecting farmers’ choice of adaptation strategies. These factors should be taken into account in the development and implementation of any programme of adaptation to climate change in Burkina Faso.

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Correspondence to Eva Schlecht.



See Table 8.

Table 8 Definition of several adaptation practices in cropping and livestock keeping encountered across three agro-ecological zones of Burkina Faso

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Zampaligré, N., Dossa, L.H. & Schlecht, E. Climate change and variability: perception and adaptation strategies of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists across different zones of Burkina Faso. Reg Environ Change 14, 769–783 (2014).

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  • Climate variability
  • Coping strategies
  • Local knowledge
  • Mixed farming systems
  • Sahelian zone
  • Sudanian zone