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Climate change, local institutions and adaptation experience: the village tank farming community in the dry zone of Sri Lanka

Listed author(s):
  • Senaratne, A.
  • Wickramasinghe, K.
Registered author(s):

    Farmers are in a continuous process of, individually and as community groups, adjusting to the observed variability in climate parameters. Climate shocks are considered by farmers in their decision-making as factors affecting risk and uncertainty, and farmers make their choices so as to minimize such risks. The overall outcome of these individual and community efforts is known as ‘climate adaptation’, which itself is a continuous process. Farmers are traditionally supported by local institutions in this process, which are also currently in a state of transformation. This study examines the climate adaptation responses of the village tank farming community in the dry zone of Sri Lanka in the context of transforming socioeconomic conditions and with the objective of identifying policy implications for adaptation to global climate change. The study was conducted in six Divisional Secretariat areas in the Anuradhapura District of the North Central Province. Both, primary and secondary data was collected in the study. The major sources of primary data included a series of focus group discussions and key informant interviews conducted with village tank farmers and local officers. The findings reveal that there are two major forms of voluntary adaptation responses by farmers against climate shocks: 1) aligning of farming activities with the recognized seasonal pattern of rainfall; and 2) management of rain water harvested in commonly owned village tanks. Farmers’ adaptation responses have been facilitated by local institutions that helped to adopt joint adaptation responses. However, recent socioeconomic dynamics introduced by rapid population increase, spread of commercial opportunities and change in agricultural technology have drastically altered conditions in the village tanks in favor of developing a commercial farming system. As a result, local institutions that traditionally facilitated the climatic adaptation responses are also in a state of transition. Therefore, farmers face problems in adapting to the impending risks and uncertainties of global climate change. The paper emphasizes the need for appropriate policy measures to facilitate the adaptive capacity of farmers.Length: pp.147-156

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    Paper provided by International Water Management Institute in its series Conference Papers with number h042867.

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    Date of creation: 2010
    Handle: RePEc:iwt:conppr:h042867
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    1. Kikuchi, M. & Barker, R. & Weligamage, P. & Samad, M., 2002. "Irrigation sector in Sri Lanka: Recent investment trends and the development path ahead," IWMI Research Reports H030846, International Water Management Institute.
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