Climate Change and Farmers’ Coping Strategies in the Upper East Region of Ghana

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This study assesses smallholder rice farmers’ coping strategies to climate change in the Upper East Region of Ghana. This region is known to be one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the country. Through a simple random sampling we conducted a questionnaire survey among 200 smallholder rice farmers in the region. The respondents observed reduced yield and, in some places, total crop failure due to severe drought and flood. To cope with these changes, the respondents adopted some strategies. For example, about 56 percent of the respondents planted crops earlier, adopted drought resistant/early maturing varieties, practiced contour bunding, and managed soil fertility. Also, 82 percent of the respondents practiced mixed farming and other livelihood support activities. Our analysis shows that their coping strategies had correlations with rice farming experience, education, and household labor. We also show that the medium-level coping capacity of the respondents is attributable to the adoption of autonomous coping strategies. Some respondents’ coping capacity remained low mainly due to weak policy initiatives and institutional support. We argue that although farmers adopted various coping strategies, more systemic institutional support can improve their coping capacity to deal with the impacts of climate change.