Assessing household vulnerability to climate change

The case of farmers in the Nile Basin of Ethiopia

Temesgen T. Deressa, Rashid M. Hassan, Claudia Ringler
ifpri discussion paper
This study measures the vulnerability of farmers to climatic extremes such as droughts, floods and hailstorms, by employing the "vulnerability as expected poverty" approach. This approach is based on estimating the probability that a given shock or set of shocks will move household consumption below a given minimum level (such as the consumption poverty line) or force the consumption level to stay below the given minimum if it is already below this level. The utilized data come from a household survey of farmers performed during the 2004/2005 production year in the Nile Basin of Ethiopia. The results show that the farmers' vulnerability is highly sensitive to their minimum daily requirement (poverty line). For instance, when the daily minimum income is fixed at 0.3 United States dollars (USD) per day, only 12.4 percent of farmers are vulnerable to climate extremes, whereas 99 percent of farmers are vulnerable when the minimum requirement is fixed at 2 USD per day. The results further indicate that farmers in kola agro-ecological zones (which are warm and semi-arid) are the most vulnerable to extreme climatic events. Policy-wise, these preliminary results indicate that, keeping other factors constant, increasing the incomes of farmers (with special emphasis on those in kola agro-ecological zones) and enabling them to meet their daily minimum requirements will reduce their vulnerability to climatic extremes.