Perceptions of climate change variability and adaptation strategies on smallholder dairy farming systems: Insights from Siaya Sub-County of Western Kenya

Citation:
Wetendea E, Olago D, Ogarac W. "Perceptions of climate change variability and adaptation strategies on smallholder dairy farming systems: Insights from Siaya Sub-County of Western Kenya." Environmental Development. 2018;27:14-25.

Abstract:

Climate change and variability is bound to impact Smallholder Dairy Farming Systems as a result of overreliance on rainfed fodder production; yet climate models project increased frequencies of droughts that have a bearing on the Length of Growing Period. Similarly higher environmental temperatures are partly attributed to biome-range shifts, implying a likelihood of emerging and re-emergence of livestock and fodder diseases and pests. Nonetheless not much is documented of perceptions and adaptation strategies employed by Smallholder Dairy Farming Systems geared towards resilience to climatie shocks. By employing a mixed method approach that included household surveys, focused group discussions and statistical data analysis using SPSS package, this study aimed to bridge some of the existing gaps in adaptation strategies on Smallholder Dairy Farming Systems in Siaya Sub-County of Western Kenya. Survey results obtained from 100 households and Focused Group Discussions revealed that the climate of the study location was perceived to have changed, with droughts singled out as the most frequent. These perceptions were consistent with long-term climate data analysis which affirmed that all seasons, i.e. MAM, JJA, and DJF with the exception of SON showed longterm drying trends. Similarly, environmental temperature showed upward trends in both maximum and minimum temperatures that were perceived to be the cause of proliferation of noxious weeds previously associated with hotter areas of the Sub-County. Typologies of adaptation strategies used in the study showed that adaptation options were limited since these were viewed through a narrow lens of disease control by regular spraying and maize stovers as supplementary livestock feed during fodder dearth periods. This study recommends that besides awareness creation of adverse impacts of climate change and variability, facilitation for ease of access to technologies that ameliorate its adverse effects ought to be put in place. Additionally, empirical studies on consequences of biome range shifts on pasture and fodder productivity, and future possible impacts of diseases on Bos taurus breeds associated with climate change and variability should be undertaken.

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