Drought impacts and related risk management by smallholder farmers in developing countries: evidence from Awash River Basin, Ethiopia
Climate risk studies have largely neglected household coping and adaptation strategies. In this paper we analyze drought impacts, drought risk management, and resulting drought resilience in Awash River Basin of Ethiopia based on socio-economic data collected from 43 randomly selected Peasant Associations. We find that severe drought periods have led to a significant depression of crop yields and to widespread death of livestock in the past. Drought periods have drastically increased the proportion of food insecure households and lengthened the duration of food insecurity in the area. Since, with climate change, drought periods are predicted to become more frequent in this region in the future, the problem of food insecurity is likely to become even more severe. Ex-ante adaptation strategies are widely practised in Awash River Basin and include the storage of crop residues as fodder for livestock, the rearing of drought tolerant livestock, mixed cropping, the use of short duration crop varieties, and the adoption of soil and water conservation practices. Ex-post coping strategies utilized to manage the consequences of drought include the sale of assets and the reliance on consumption loans and support offered by informal networks. Therefore, suitable policies are urgently needed to strengthen farmers’ capacity to adapt to and cope with drought. Training farmers in the production and conservation of livestock fodder as well as in soil and water conservation practices appear to be key policy options relevant in the area. Moreover, improving farmers’ access to climate related information, especially drought forecasts, could improve the timely adoption of effective adaptation measures.
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