Adapting to Climate Change in Africa

December 21, 2008

Takie Barusha has been farming for many years near the Ethiopian village of Harufa-Lole, about 185 kilometers south of Addis Ababa. With only 2.5 hectares of land, it hasn’t been easy for Takie to provide for his large family. In recent years, however, Takie has been facing even greater challenges due to global warming.

“The rain doesn’t come at the usual, expected time and the temperature is increasing,” he said. “There are many problems because of climate change, and the indigenous way of farming can’t support my family anymore.”

The vast majority of African farmers interviewed for a recent climate change study by IFPRI and its partners perceived long-term changes in both temperature and rainfall. Most of the farmers, however, did not adjust their farming practices due to a number of obstacles—including shortage of land and lack of access to credit and information— that prevented them from effectively adapting to global warming.

To overcome these barriers, the research shows that extension services should target those who are most vulnerable to climate change, including subsistence farmers and women, and improve their access to information and agricultural technologies that can both enhance productivity and reduce risk.

Previously, Takie grew only the traditional varieties of maize and haricot beans and his yields were low. After receiving advice and assistance from researchers about ways to combat some of the negative consequences of climate change, Takie switched to new maize and bean varieties.

“I’m now growing some early-maturing crop varieties,” he proudly explained. Takie has also started using reduced tillage and practicing other soil and water conservation measures.

“We have to take care of our environment. We can revive it,” he optimistically added.


How can African Agriculture Adapt to Climate Change?: Insights from Ethiopia and South Africa
Research Brief series 15. 

Climate Change in Africa: Media Resources for Journalists

Measuring Ethiopian Farmers' Vulnerability to Climate Change Across Regional States
Discussion Paper. 

Vulnerability and the Impact of Climate Change in South Africa's Limpopo River Basin
Discussion Paper.

Analyzing the Determinants of Farmers' Choice of Adaptation Methods and Perceptions of Climate Change in the Nile Basin of Ethiopia
Discussion Paper.