An assessment of farmers' adaptive capacity to climate change risks in Bulambuli District, Mt. Elgon Uganda
Climate change risks pose a significant threat in the agricultural production domain of farmers. The threat is relatively higher in highland and mountainous landscapes due to the ecological sensitivity. Substantial evidence indicates that although climate risks affect communities in Uganda, there is limited knowledge on adaptive capacity of farmers. The thrust of this study was to assess the adaptive capacity of farmers in Bwikhonge Sub-county, Bulambuli District. Trends in climate were assessed through examination of rainfall data from 1965 to 2013 to decipher peaks, and extremities in climate. A survey was conducted to establish the farmers’ perceptions on climate variability, change and adaptive capacities. 246 household respondents were interviewed from five parishes. In addition to the survey, focused group discussions (FGD’s) were also conducted. The results show that the rainfall amount has not significantly (P>0.0055) changed over the 1965 – 2013 period and annual rainfall totals show no change in rainfall amount but rather variation hence exhibiting that the rainfall is constant but the coefficient variation is changing over time. Further results on the farmers’ perception on changing weather variables indicate significant variability in a range of weather parameters including rainfall, temperature and sunshine hours. Factor analysis was used to cluster the adaptive practices and results indicate that adaptive practices clustered around seven mechanisms including conservation strategies, risk avoidance, risk retention, communal pooling, diversification, enhancing livelihood productivities and storage. Linear regression analysis revealed access to market canters, change of land acreage, ownership of bicycles, access to financial services, age of household head, crop harvest, access to healthy centers, land size owned, ownership of mobile phone, number of livestock owned and number of years of residence as major determinants of adaptive capacity of farmers in Bwikhonge farmers, there is need for soil and water conservation, enhancement of livelihood skills, building household and farm assets.