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Type: Thesis
Title: Climate Variability and Farm-households in the Sudan Savannah Zone of Ghana
Author: Atampugre, Gerald
Issue Date: 2018
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences : Geography, Environment & Population
Abstract: This thesis contributes to knowledge by providing a better understanding of the social-ecological factors underlying the exposure, vulnerability and adaptation to climate variability and extremes. While there is research on the topic, there is little understanding about how these factors manifest in various livelihood contexts that are simultaneously experiencing increasing severity in climate variability and extreme events, particularly in rural areas that dominated by smallholder farmers. The Sudan Savannah Zone (SSZ) of Ghana, a zone that experiences and has rain-fed agriculture as the predominant livelihood source, presents an excellent lens through which this knowledge contribution can be explored. There is ample evidence suggesting that rural farm-households in the SSZ of the country, will continue to bear the brunt of climate-induced impacts, which may include devastated crop production and a major threat to natural resource-based livelihoods. In the face of these expected impacts, there is the need for in-depth understanding of climate-farm-household relationships in order to facilitate efficient and effective responses. This mixed method research project involved the geospatial analysis of the distribution of climate risks, indexing of exposure and vulnerability levels and the examination of climate risk coping and adaptation dynamics among smallholder farm-households. These activities were done using secondary spatial data and primary data from focus group discussions and surveys of farm-household heads. In all, 3 districts, 230 farm-household heads (for the survey) and 33 (for FGDs) were involved in the study. Study results show that although districts were in the same agroecological zone, there were significant spatial variations in terms of the distribution of climate risk. Out of the five biophysical factors used in the geospatial analysis, three factors significantly explained the spatial variance in risk levels (i.e. aridity, vegetation cover, and land use/cover). Similarly, the survey found that despite the high level of respondent awareness and perception of climate risks and livelihood threats, there were significant variations among farm-households depending on the district, the gender of household heads and the number of years engaged in farming. Interestingly, although all farm-households were in the category of moderate and high exposure to climate risks, female-headed households were relatively less exposed compared to male-headed households. However, disaggregation of the composite exposure index showed that under some of the risk factors, female-headed households were relatively more exposed than male-headed households. Results from the exposure analysis varied according to the specific climate risk factor and by the gender of the household head. Findings from the vulnerability assessment indicated that female-headed households were comparatively more likely to be highly susceptible to climate risks. The gendered asymmetry in farm-household vulnerability was found to be rooted in the inequalities in livelihood diversification opportunities, finance, human and natural capital base. Moreover, the significant variance across study districts affirms that vulnerability is contextual and heterogeneous in space, even at the local level. Results showed that the underlying determinants of the chosen adaptation strategies included: the gender of the household head; age; education; farming experience; access to credit; livelihood diversification; and land tenure. The findings further showed that barriers to climate adaptation in the study area are mainly related to issues such as: farm-household finance; lack of institutional support; cost of farm inputs, the socio-cultural structure which defines relationships in these communities, and physical infrastructure. This project finds there is significant relationship between the availability of, and accessibility to, sustainable livelihood assets and the extent to which a farm-household may or may not be exposed, vulnerable, and able to engage in adaptation. The study, therefore, demonstrates that having a comprehensive understanding of social-ecological system dynamics and how they determine climate exposure, vulnerability, and adaptation is fundamental to any planned or autonomous initiative that seeks to build system resilience.
Advisor: Nursey-Bray, Melissa
Rudd, Dianne
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2018
Keywords: Climate variability
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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