Farmer perceptions of climate variability induced drought, local adaptation and mitigation measures: case study on the subsistence farming community of Siphocosini, Swaziland
Mareverwa, Hazel Fadziso
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The occurrence of droughts are becoming a prevalent feature in the Swaziland agricultural sector, where over 70 percent of the population is dependent on rain fed agriculture as their main source of livelihood. There is therefore an increased concern that climate variability, through drought, will further threaten the livelihoods of the already vulnerable rural families and increase the vulnerability at household and community level or even the economy of the country. The objectives of the study were to assess the social effects brought on by climate variability induced drought, determine the subsistence farmer perceptions of climate variability induced drought and to understand the local adaptation and mitigation strategies employed by the farmers. It is important to note that this study was conducted at a household level in the community of Siphocosini in Swaziland, which makes it unique, contrasting most research studies carried out at national level. A household questionnaire and Focus Group Discussion (FGD) were used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data for the study. The descriptive statistical analysis was employed to describe the households and the social effects of climate variability induced drought. The research results indicated that farmers in the community are responding to climate variability induced drought through the implementation of several local adaptation and mitigation strategies in an attempt to build resilience. The adaptation and mitigation strategies are influenced by a number of factors, which include farmer perceptions of climate variability, technology and access to information. The research findings further revealed that there is limited comprehensive awareness of climate variability, indicating a lack of support from the public sector and private sector towards subsistence farming in the community. From the results gathered in the study recommendations such as the promotion and implementation of drought and climate variability preparedness programmes, which can educate and empower farmers to effectively adapt and mitigate effects of weather extremes, are made. The study also recommends that the adaptation strategies implemented should have a participatory approach including existing local knowledge and resources.