This paper analyzes the vulnerability of South African farmers to climate change and variability by developing a vulnerability index and comparing vulnerability indicators across the nine provinces of the country. Nineteen environmental and socio-economic indicators are identified to reflect the three components of vulnerability: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. The results of the study show that the region’s most vulnerable to climate change and variability also have a higher capacity to adapt to climate change. Furthermore, vulnerability to climate change and variability is intrinsically linked with social and economic development. The Western Cape and Gauteng provinces, which have high levels of infrastructure development, high literacy rates, and low shares of agriculture in total GDP, are relatively low on the vulnerability index. In contrast, the highly vulnerable regions of Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape are characterized by densely populated rural areas, large numbers of small-scale farmers, high dependency on rainfed agriculture and high land degradation. These large differences in the extent of vulnerability among provinces suggest that policy makers should develop region-specific policies and address climate change at the local level.
A subnational assessment
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)