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Title: Vulnerability and adaptation of Ghana's food production systems and rural livelihoods to climate variability
Author: Antwi-Agyei, Philip
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
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Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be severely affected by climate change in the form of increased climate variability. Ghana provides a suitable case study country in which to assess the vulnerability of communities to such climate changes. Data on the nature and extent of vulnerability of Ghana’s food production systems and livelihoods to climate variability (particularly drought) are lacking, and this hampers the development of effective policy to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and variability. This study aims to enhance empirical understanding of the socioeconomic, institutional and biophysical factors that contribute to vulnerability to climate change and variability amongst a range of farming households and communities in Ghana. By integrating statistical analyses, participatory methods and ecological surveys, this research adopts a multi-scale approach to assess the extent of food production and livelihood vulnerability across multiple scales: mapping vulnerability at the national and regional scales and drilling down to the community and household scales. Results show that the vulnerability of crop production to climate variability (particularly drought) has discernible geographical and socioeconomic patterns, with the Northern, Upper West and Upper East regions being most vulnerable. The results of the drought assessment are used to guide local-level research, and demonstrate the need for region-specific policies to reduce vulnerability and enhance drought preparedness within dryland farming communities. Within the same agro-ecological setting, different communities and households experience different vulnerability attributed to differences in socioeconomic characteristics. Results show that vulnerability of farming households can be linked to access to livelihood capital assets and that vulnerable communities tend to have households that are characterised by low levels of human, natural, financial, physical and social capitals. Findings also demonstrate that small-scale farmers employ a range of on-farm and off-farm adaptation strategies including changing the timing of planting, planting of drought-tolerant and early maturing varieties of crops, livelihood diversification, agro-forestry systems, crop diversification, temporary migration, relying on social networks and reducing food consumption to manage climate variability. A range of challenges including a lack of financial resources, poor access to information on climate adaptation, complex land tenure systems, social-cultural barriers, limited access to improved varieties of crops, as well as a lack of institutional support, constitute serious barriers to adaptation. Policy makers need to formulate specific and targeted climate adaptation policies that a) enable farmers to engage in alternative livelihood diversification strategies; b) promote the development and planting of improved varieties of crops; and c) allow for the provision of institutional support including access to information on climate adaptation and adequate all-year-round extension services. Such policies should be linked to programmes that foster asset building as well as enhance institutional capacity and social capital.
Supervisor: Dougill, Andrew ; Fraser, Evan ; Stringer, Lindsay Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available