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Implications of a changing climate on food security and smallholders’ livelihoods in Bogotá, Colombia

Abstract

Small farmers who supply the city of Bogotá with food are facing many challenges that are jeopardizing their livelihoods and by extension, the food security of Colombia’s capital. We expect future changes in climatic conditions to exacerbate the plight of the small farmers and this is expected to compromise Bogota’s food security even further. This paper specifically seeks to assess the impact of climate change (CC) on the livelihoods of smallholders who supply Bogota with most of its food. In our multidisciplinary methodology, we translated the exposure to CC into direct impact on crops and assessed sensitivity and adaptive capacity using the sustainable rural livelihoods framework. The results show that rainfall (by average of 100 mm) and temperature (by average of 2.1 °C) will increase over the study area, while the future climate suitability of the most important crops such as mango (Mangifera indica), papaya (Carica papaya), corn (Zea mays) and plantain (Musa balbisiana) shows a decrease of 19 % to 47 % climate suitability by the year 2050. The assessment of sensitivity and adaptive capacity demonstrates that farmers participating in a farmers’ market, initiated by several local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are less vulnerable to CC than farmers who sell through intermediaries. Those farmers selling directly to consumers in the farmers’ market have a higher adaptive capacity (3 on a scale of 3) in social and financial capital than those selling to intermediaries with less adaptive capacity (1 on a scale of 3). In light of the reduction in overall climatic suitability of some of the major crops and the change of geographic location of suitability for others, there are likely to be serious threats for Bogotá’s food security, the ecological landscape around the city, and farmers’ livelihoods. We further conclude that unless proper adaptation measures are implemented, the geographical shift in climate suitability may also force farmers to shift their crops to higher elevations including remaining forests and páramos (the Colombian alpine tundra ecosystems), which may be threatened in the near future.

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Acknowledgement

The authors thank the participating farmer of the departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca, local government agencies, NGOs and private institutions who made this research possible. The author also wish to acknowledge the kind support through the global program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS, http://ccafs.cgiar.org/).

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Correspondence to Anton Eitzinger.

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Eitzinger, A., Läderach, P., Bunn, C. et al. Implications of a changing climate on food security and smallholders’ livelihoods in Bogotá, Colombia. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 19, 161–176 (2014) doi:10.1007/s11027-012-9432-0

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Keywords

  • Colombia
  • Bogotá
  • Climate change
  • Crop climate-suitability
  • Food security
  • Vulnerability