Assessing vulnerability of horticultural smallholders’ to climate variability in Ghana: applying the livelihood vulnerability approach

  • Portia Adade WilliamsEmail author
  • Olivier Crespo
  • Mumuni Abu


Changing climate is posing considerable threats to agriculture, the most vulnerable sector, and to smallholder farming systems, the predominant agricultural livelihood activity in Africa. Study of specific systems enables clearer and more effective responses to be directly targeted for enhanced adaptation, but there is limited knowledge guiding specific subsector vulnerability assessments. We applied the Livelihood Vulnerability Index to understand and identify the nature and sources of vulnerability among smallholder horticultural farming households to climate variability in two districts in Ghana. A total of 480 households engaging in fruit and vegetable crop production were surveyed in Keta and Nsawam districts of Ghana. Data were collected on indicators for Livelihood Vulnerability Index components such as socio-demographic profiles, livelihood strategies, social networking, health, food, production, water, natural disasters, and climate variability. The vulnerability-contributing factors were aggregated in a composite index and differences were compared. The results indicate that smallholder horticultural farmers in Keta are more vulnerable in relation to high exposure and high sensitivity to climate variability, while smallholders in Nsawam are more vulnerable in terms of low capacity to adapt to climate variability. As it is the case for smallholder horticultural farming communities, the study suggests that Livelihood Vulnerability Index can be broadly applied to highlight potential areas for intervention and reduce the vulnerability of sector-specific farming communities within local and national levels.


Climate variability Vulnerability Smallholders Horticultural production Livelihood Vulnerability Index (LVI) Ghana 



This work is supported with funding from the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) Fellowship Program and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). All statements made and interpretations given from the findings and conclusion arrived are the views of the authors and not the opinion of OWSD and/or Sida.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 189 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Climate System Analysis Group, Environmental and Geographical Science DepartmentUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.CSIR - Science and Technology Policy Research InstituteAccraGhana
  3. 3.Regional Institute for Population StudiesUniversity of GhanaLegon-AccraGhana

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