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Climate change vulnerability assessment among rainfed smallholder farmers: a case analysis from Indian watersheds

Raghavan Sathyan, Archana

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URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:26-opus-146676

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Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch): climate change , watersheds , smallholder farmers , rainfed farming , adaptation strategies
Universität Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Institut: Department of Landscape, Water and Biogeochemical Cycles
Fachgebiet: Agrarwissenschaften, Ökotrophologie und Umweltmanagement fachübergreifend
DDC-Sachgruppe: Landwirtschaft
Dokumentart: Dissertation
Sprache: Englisch
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 23.05.2019
Erstellungsjahr: 2019
Publikationsdatum: 31.05.2019
Kurzfassung auf Englisch: Climate change and its unavoidable impacts are being felt around the world which is why vulnerability assessments are essential planning tools for defining the climate change associated risks, for generating better policies as well as for identifying location specific adaptation strategies. Tropical rainfed agriculture is of specific interest as it holds the majority of world food production, dominated by smallholder farming which are notably vulnerable to climate change. However, only few studies have been conducted on the vulnerability of smallholders in the rainfed tropics, especially in India, a country that will be particularly affected by climate change. This study focuses on climate vulnerability assessment among smallholder farms in three Watershed Development Programme (WDP) areas of Kerala, the southernmost state of India
The integrated climate vulnerability approach considers vulnerability as a function of three dimensions of vulnerability: adaptive capacity, sensitivity and exposure. Based on this approach a composite index, Climate Vulnerability Index for Rainfed Farming in Tropics (CVIRFT), is developed that specifically measures the vulnerability of farmers in agriculturally dominated tropical regions. As a composite index provides only a single big picture, it is essential to know if the three observed watersheds are significantly different in terms of their index value. For the assessment of robustness of the CVIRFT, a bootstrap sampling and a leave-one-out sensitivity analysis is carried out. The perceptions of farmers play a key role in determining the choices of adaptation strategies and thus the adoption process. To find out the determinants of the small holder’s adaptation strategies, a binary logistic regression model is used.
The primary data used for the study was collected through 215 household surveys, 6 focus group discussions and 6 key informant interviews split among the three watershed areas. The CVIRFT comprises of three dimensions of vulnerability and the dimensions are described by 10 major components, consisting of 59 individual indicators. The watersheds show small variation in the CVIRFT values when compared. Among them, the watershed area with a WDP organized by the State Government (SG) is comparatively the least vulnerable followed by the one where a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) is heading the WDP. The highest vulnerability is found in the watershed where a Local self Government (LG) is leading the WDP implementation. The sensitivity analysis of CVIRFT revealed that there is no significant difference in the adaptive capacity between the three watersheds while there are significant differences in the sensitivity and the exposure dimensions. Furthermore, the sensitivity analysis of the index shows that ‘Livelihood Strategies’ and ‘Social Network’ are the most influencing major components of vulnerability. The perception study reveals that a vast majority of the households in the three study areas perceived a medium to high level of rise in average temperature and an increase in hot months. In addition, it is evident that an increase in rainfall is recognized by more than 98% of the survey participants over the three regions. However, farmers differ considerably in terms of the quantity and the selection of adaptation strategies to cope with perceived climate change. The binary logistic model depicts that various determining factors significantly affect the adaptation strategies, as for example, farming experience, male-headed households, women’s participation, education, farm size and livestock. The services rendered by the WDPs are not sufficient for an effective adaptation process by the smallholders and restructuring in sectoral wise plans and interventions is needed.
The climate vulnerability assessment study is the first of its kind at watershed level, with emphasis on socio-economic factors. The composite index is replicable to further climate vulnerability assessment context, with refinement of indicators based on the locality and the targeted group. Thus, CVIRFT is a meaningful tool to develop watershed interventions and climate change adaptation strategies with a strong consideration of socio-economic characteristics.
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