Livelihood diversification to combat climate change effects in Sachitema chiefdom, Kalomo district.

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Bwalya, Derrick
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The University of Zambia.
Empirical evidence from a variety of different locations suggest that livelihoods diversification is happening. Rural households do indeed engage in multiple activities and rely on diversified income portfolios in order to increase their resilience to climate change effects (Ellis, 1997). In sub-Saharan Africa, a range of 30–50 per cent reliance on non-farm income sources is common; but it may attain 80–90 per cent in southern Africa. In view of these concerns, the study aimed at investigating the extent to which livelihood diversification strategies adopted by people in Siachitema Chiefdom have contributed to combating effects of climate change. The study used mixed-method approach and convergent parallel design was employed. A total of 200 randomly sampled smallholder farmers from Siachitema chiefdom were interviewed. The objectives were: (a) To rate the severity of the effects of climate change on identified livelihood, (b) To assess the livelihood diversification strategies adopted by residents of Siachitema to withstand climate change effects, (c) To analyze the contribution of livelihood diversification strategies to household food security. The research questions were: (a) what livelihoods are common among residents of Siachitema? (b) How severe are the effects of climate change on local livelihoods in Siachitema Chiefdom? (c) What livelihoods diversification strategies have been adopted by residents of Siachitema Chiefdom to combat climate change effects? (d) To what extent do livelihoods diversification strategies contribute to household food security? Further, 10 key informants were purposively sampled. The Least Square Difference (LSD), Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Spearman Rank Correlation were used to analyze quantitative data. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The data were closely examined to identify common themes and patterns arising from the data set. Analysis of collected data revealed that climate change had very severe effects on common livelihoods, particularly on crop and livestock farming. The effects of climate change on the common livelihoods involved stunted growth of crops, reduced soil moisture content, increase in pests and pathogens, crop failure, decrease in crop yields, and destruction of crops by intermittent floods. The effects on livestock farming included, increase in temperature; shortage of fresh water, shortage of forage, mastitis, a disease which caused inflammation of the udder, foot root, increased death of livestock, and heat stress. Effects on gardening included: shortage of water to support growth of vegetables, increase in temperature which destroyed vegetables. Residents of Siachitema chiefdom diversified their livelihoods in order to combat the effects of climate change. The diversification of livelihoods was categorized into (i) On-farm: iv Conservation agriculture (Ripping and Ground Basin), 45% of smallholder farmers interviewed adopted conservation agriculture. Ripping the land allowed for minimum tillage, potholing (ground basins) involved digging big and small holes respectively on the ground, planting early maturing crops had 100% adoption rate, planting drought tolerant crops 60% adoption rate, keeping small ruminants 80% adoption rate ,intercropping 73% adoption rate, application of cow dung as fertilizer 27% adoption rate, migrating animals to places with water and forage 54% adoption rate; (ii) Non-farm: engaging in piece works in urban areas had 47% adoption rate, molding bricks 26% adoption rate, engaging in village banking 18% adoption, registering for social cash transfer 32% adoption, petty trading 41% adoption, charcoal burning 39% adoption; brick laying 21% adoption rate (iii) Off-farm: doing piece works in other people’s farms 12% adoption. The adopted strategies made significant contribution to household food security. Diversification helped farmers to improve their food security situation better than it was before they started diversifying. Diversification of crops in particular had a positive and significant effect on household food security. It is concluded that the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Siachitema chiefdom are affected by impacts of climate change. Changes in climate has an impact on the livelihoods of farmers through recurrent drought, high temperatures and occasional floods. Smallholder farmers resorted to diversifying their livelihoods in order to increase income generation and ensure sustainability. The study recommends that Government should consider subsidizing the prices of magoye rippers. This will promote increased adoption of conservation farming and increase smallholder farmers’ resilience to climate change effects. Government through Ministry of local Government and rural development should consider providing soft loans to smallholder farmers at low interest rate. This will promote non-farm activities such as business and subsequently reduce reliance on on-farm activities which have been threatened by climate change. In terms of policy direction, there is need to establish climate change and food security network and developing a comprehensive communication plan to share information with regards to climate change effects, vulnerability, adaptation and mitigation. Further, conservation agriculture should not only focus on technical approaches to increase adoption rates but also consider the social aspects like perceptions.