Adapting to climate variability and change in smallholder farming communities: A case study from Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger

  • Sanoussi A
  • Mohamed L
  • Seyni S
  • et al.
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Climate variability and change is regarded as having major impacts on key sustainable socio-economic and environmental indicators in Sub-Saharan West Africa. Because of these concerns, we investigated smallholders knowledge, skills, and aspirations about managing climate change, and document adaptation strategies used in the semi-arid regions coming from Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger. We analyzed climate data from the 1950's to the present, including daily and aggregated rainfall and temperature variability, trends and extremes. We also examined farmer perceptions of climate, particularly with what was expected and what was actually observed. Field data was collected through: (i) a semi-structured survey administered to 478 head households; (ii) from focus groups through discussion and consultation with local stakeholders by using a risk matrix. The main agro-climatic risks for farmers in these countries are: Increasing maximum and minimum temperatures; high rainfall variability; and, extreme droughts and floods. We were able to work with communities to identify and prioritize authentic climate change adaptation measures that were deemed to be both strategic and complementary to prudent natural resource management and enhanced agricultural production. Identified innovative adaptation practices that may be up-scaled include: expanding irrigation systems, adjusting crop planting times to suit localized weather and climate forecasts, plant breeding to establish more heat-stress tolerant crops and associated agroforestry. In dryland rainfall systems, it was acknowledged there is a need for greater reliance on water-stress tolerant crops, better soil and water conservation techniques associated with broad catchment management and agroforestry, and improving soil management through prudent fertilizers in sorghum crops. To address climate change, such practices need immediate wider-scale implementation.




Sanoussi, A., Mohamed, L., Seyni, S., & David, A. G. (2015). Adapting to climate variability and change in smallholder farming communities: A case study from Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger. Journal of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, 7(1), 16–27.

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