Utilisation of Ecosystem-based drought adaptation options among smallholder farmers in Kiboga District, Uganda
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There is growing interest in promoting the use of Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change; however there is limited understanding of the characteristics of the EbA options available and used by smallholder farmers and what factors influence their choice. Using a cross sectional survey, this study sought to characterise EbA options used to respond to perceived drought impacts and established the determinants of EbA choice among smallholder farmers in Kiboga district. The EbA options were characterised basing on ecosystem services, adaptation benefits and livelihood improvement categories which unveiled the different proportions of each EbA option under each category. A Chi square test to determine if there was an association between the EbA options and the categorical variables (ecosystem services, adaptation benefits to drought and livelihood improvement) was conducted. An agglomerative hierarchical clustering (AHC) test to obtain the relationship among the EbA options was also conducted. A multinomial logit model (MNL) was used to analyze the determinants of farmers’ choice of EbA options. The most prevalent perceived drought impacts were water, food and forage shortages, increased temperatures, crop withering and increased prevalence of pests and diseases. Although, there were majorly ten EbA options, the smallholder farmers coped and/or adapted to these impacts majorly using agroforestry, water conservation and management, and alternative EbA livelihoods. Agroforestry and alternative EbA livelihoods were the most used EbA options based on ecosystem services and adaptation benefits to drought while alternative EbA livelihoods and water conservation and management were the most used EbA options based on livelihood improvement. The chi square test results showed that there was a significant relationship between the EbA options and the categorical variables. Agroforestry, water conservation and management and alternative EbA livelihoods showed a close relationship following the AHC test. The major determinants of EbA choice were access to extension services, hours spent on farm daily, acreage occupied by crops, major agricultural activity, average annual income, membership to farmer organisation and use of indigenous knowledge. This study suggests conservation of ecosystems because they provide multiple benefits to smallholder farmers. The determinants of EbA choice should be considered in policy formulation, implementation and in monitoring climate change trends. Basing on the findings that agroforestry was closely related to water conservation and management and alternative EbA livelihoods, further studies should be undertaken to explain relatedness of these closely related EbA options among smallholder farmers. In addition, climate change adaptation initiatives should put this close relatedness into consideration during their planning and implementation. This study revealed that EbA improves livelihoods of smallholder farmers, further studies should be undertaken to show the extent to which EbA has done so.