Climate Change is seen as a serious threat to sustained production for smallholder farming in Northern Uganda, because weather patterns – rainfall, temperature, droughts – are getting more extreme and less reliable. This makes farming more difficult and increases crop failures. Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) measures are seen as a necessary step to reduce such risks or at least make them better manageable. It is not always clear to what extent farmers have already been taken such measures, how successful they have been and what are the remaining problems they face.
The Lango Food Security and Nutrition Cluster – LFSNC (consisting of 7 NGOs: NECPA, CARITAS, AFSRT, DETREC, PASUD, ICES and FAPAD) invited FSAS to conduct a field research into CCA. The research process consisted of three steps: 1) a preparatory workshop for design of research methodology and questionnaire; 2) a 4-days field research, during which focus group discussions were held in five different communities around Lira; 3) a feedback workshop with research team and invited government officers. The research team consisted of 8 persons, representing all cluster members. The research took place early November 2013.
Two main research tasks were identified:
- An inventory and assessment of existing CCA measures developed and applied by farmers
- An analysis of factors that affect the production levels on farmers’ fields
The assumption was that though farmers may suffer from climate change, they also face many other, multiple and linked factors, which all affect their production levels negatively. The research aimed to take this broader picture into consideration instead of jumping to Climate Change as a single factor. During the research farmers identified the diverse factors that affected their production levels over the last 10 years. The participatory ranking exercise put weather changes at highest rate, but shortly followed by factors, such as lack of quality farm inputs, low soil fertility, pests and diseases, poor access to markets and poor access to land.
Farmers practice many diverse measures on their fields to counter the adverse weather changes (labeled CCA measures) and to reduce the effects of the other factors. In general, farmers are not satisfied with the effectiveness of these measures and they strongly wish to improve on them. Their feedback has provided useful inputs for NGOs to improve and enrich their existing programmes. The existing meteorological data are so far of limited quality; no proper weather forecasts exists that support farmers in decision making. The technical language used by meteorological staff hinders effective communication with farmers. Regional models for climate change are non-existent.
Whereas virtually all persons associate Climate Change with increased occurrence of droughts and unreliable cropping seasons, the attention for damage caused by floods remains relatively low. However, increasing annual rainfall (!) and more intensive rain storms cause serious havoc to farming and communities. But so far neither farmers nor NGOs have developed effective and tested measures to reduce these risks of floods. The suggested flood control measures still need technical attention, as they can easily cause more havoc than solve the problem.
What are your experiences with this ‘flood’ dimension of climate change? Is this an underrated and ignored side of climate change? What measures have you taken to counter flood damage for smallholders? How effective were they?