West African Farmers’ Climate Change Adaptation: From Technological Change Towards Transforming Institutions
The effects of climate change are widely threatening West African farming. The case of the farmers in the West African Sudan savannah is particularly severe due to the specific ecological vulnerability and the political and socioeconomic instability in the region.
Since 2012, the West African Science Service on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) has been leading a regional effort to enhance the understanding, data availability and building capabilities to strengthen the ability of agricultural systems in coping with the effects of climate change. One of the activities focuses on determining the drivers of farmers’ adaptation.
The case studies in this research in Benin and Burkina Faso identified major climate hazards, farmers’ perceptions and adaptation measures. Research methods included ethnography, quantitative and mixed analyses.
Results show mixed mainstream and specific perceptions of climate change and its effects. The mainly perceived impacts relate to yield decline, pest increase and water scarcity. Adaptation is widespread, but practices are diverse and often neither correlated with the type of hazards nor with impacts.
This indicates that it is necessary to acknowledge the role of adaptation to problems not only caused by climate change, and to consider adaptation as an enhancing factor of social-ecological resilience. Furthermore, the focus on technological changes in the local context should be directed towards enhancing adaptive and transforming institutions. Ongoing studies on agroforestry, subsidies provision and livestock demonstrate such strategies.
KeywordsClimate change West African Sudan Savannah Technological innovation Institutional adaptability Agricultural land-use systems
This research was carried out within the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) framework, financed by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education.
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