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Enhancing resilience to climate shocks through farmer innovation: evidence from northern Ghana

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In this paper, we contribute to recent attempts to operationalize the measurement of climate resilience by measuring household resilience to climate shocks and by assessing the role of farmer innovations in enhancing climate resilience. Adapting the Food and Agriculture Organization’s resilience tool, we develop a household resilience index using survey data from rural farm households in northern Ghana. The index consists of six components and 23 indicators and was constructed using two indicator-weighting approaches. The proposed resilience index is a simple tool that can be used to quantitatively assess the resilience of households to the incidence of climate shocks and to monitor interventions aimed at building rural household resilience to unpredictable shocks. The results indicate that farm households in the study region are weakly resilient to climate shocks. We also show that farmers go beyond adoption of externally driven technologies to develop their very own innovations, and these innovations contribute significantly to enhancing household resilience to climate shocks. Using propensity score matching method, we found that farmer innovators are about 6% more resilient to climate shocks than non-innovators. This result is robust to alternative weighting approaches and matching algorithms, and also to hidden bias. The paper concludes that policy efforts aiming at enhancing farm households’ resilience to climate shocks should consider providing support for farmers’ innovations.

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  1. For a review of the different matching techniques, see Caliendo and Kopeinig (2008).

  2. The other two matching estimators also yield similar results of matching quality, but are not reported for brevity.

  3. The resilience indices based on the unequal weighting approach, which were constructed using PCA, have a sample mean value of zero. Thus, percentage interpretations relative to the sample mean are not possible (Kabunga et al. 2014). However, the ATT values suggest that innovators are significantly more resilient to climate shocks than non-innovators.


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Funding received from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through the West African Science Service Center for Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) research programme is gratefully acknowledged. Writing this article was also made possible by financial support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) under the Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation (PARI). We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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Correspondence to Justice A. Tambo.

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Editor: Sarah Gergel.

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Tambo, J.A., Wünscher, T. Enhancing resilience to climate shocks through farmer innovation: evidence from northern Ghana. Reg Environ Change 17, 1505–1514 (2017).

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