Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Local perceptions of climate change, coping and adaptation strategies among smallholder farmers in the Lake Basin Region of Kenya Public Deposited

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  • Smallholder farmers in Africa, who have long relied on rain-fed agriculture, are currently experiencing adverse impacts of climate change which is posing serious challenges to their ability to sustain their livelihoods (Morton 2007). This is the case for many other areas around the world, especially among indigenousor ruralcommunities who rely directly on natural resources. Little is understood about the day-to-day impacts felt in many of these communities, impacts that vary considerably, based on location. Little still, is understood about the strategies that individuals or communities are adopting in order to cope and adapt, strategies that can be expected to vary based on the social and cultural context of specific communities (Crate & Nuttall 2009). Discourses around climate change have been dominated mainly by scientists and policy makers who, in their considerations, pay more attention tothe biophysical aspects of climate variability. Consequently, strategies to address climate change are centered on mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, a major concern in the industrialized world (Orlove et al. 2010, Berkes 2007). However it is projected that greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere, will result in increasing climate variability and extreme events such as droughts and rising temperatures among others. Communities in the non-industrialized world have contributed the least to greenhouse gases, yet they are disproportionately vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change (Kangalawe 2011). Given the broad scale of climate change, the resulting impacts affect many aspects of peoples' livelihoods. Hence there is a need for moreplace-based studies that highlight the human dimensions of climate change. Considering human dimensions provides to a better understanding of the links between perceptions of climate change, local knowledge and responses to climate change. This approach is adopted in this research study, which focuses on smallholder farmers in Rusinga Island located in Kenya's Lake Victoria basin. The main aim is to understand how they perceive climate change and in turn the strategies they are employing as they confront uncertain climatic conditions. The study is centered on the individual practices of local farmers as well as communal action aimed at enhancing their resilience to climate change. The approach is integrative seeking to understand the coping and adaptation strategies favored by farmers within the specific sociocultural context in Rusinga Island.
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