Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 483–500 | Cite as

Livelihood factors and household strategies for an unexpected climate event in upland northern Laos

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Abstract

Climate events pose major challenges to food production and the livelihoods of rural inhabitants in northern Laos, where upland rice using swidden production is an important crop. The onset of the rainy season in this area is one such climate event, and it has occurred earlier and with less regularity in recent years. Not all households are able to cope with these changes. This study examines the ability of local farmers to cope with rice insufficiency. This investigation also clarifies household strategies in dealing with the climate event. We randomly interviewed 63 of 95 household heads, and performed a paired sample t test to examine the significance of differences in three household groups between the 2010 normal climate and the 2011 climate event. The groups were categorized according to rice self-sufficiency in 2011: groups I are households with rice self-sufficiency, group II are those facing a rice shortage of up to 3 months, and group III are those with insufficient rice for over 3 months. We also conducted a one-way ANOVA to examine the significance of differences in livelihood strategies among the three groups. We found that the household labor force was the most important factor in enhancing the villagers’ ability to deal with the climate event and that the level of impact of that event shaped their coping strategies. Households with substantial labor force had more options for coping strategies than those with smaller ones. The villagers faced different levels of impact and adopted different coping strategies accordingly. Non-timber forest product collection was the principle livelihood strategy in response to non-climate factors such as education, access to health services, provision of equipment and clothing, and overcoming the impact of the climate event. Households heavily affected by the early rainy season onset tended to engage in intensive activities such as off-farm activity and outside work, rather than their major livelihood activities in the village (upland crop and livestock production).

Keywords

Climate events Livelihood factors Livelihood change Household strategy Swidden 

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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Graduate School of Environmental StudiesNagoya UniversityFuro-cho, Chikusa-ku, NagoyaJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Bioagricultural SciencesNagoya UniversityFuro-cho, Chikusa-ku, NagoyaJapan

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