Climate change and smallholder livestock production: Impacts and adaptation Strategies in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the countries most affected by climate change since its economy mainly relies on agriculture. In Ethiopia agriculture is characterized by subsistence farming, virtually rain-fed, dominated by cereal crop, cattle and goat production. The Ethiopia Government is implementing a “Climate-Resilient Green Economy” policy and “Growth and Transformation Plan-II” programme to minimize the negative effects of climate change on the national economy. However, the livestock sector is still threatened by climate variability and change through recurrent drought, floods and heat stresses. Thus, this paper reviews what would be the most prominent climate variability and related risks for smallholder livestock farmers, how they are experiencing and adapting to those risks and factors limiting effective utilizing of adaptation strategies. In the country, the average annual temperature has been increasing at about 0.20C per decade since 1980 whereas precipitation remains constant but declining. The average numbers of “hot” nights and “hot” days have increased by 37.5% and 20% between 1960 and 2003, respectively. In projection analysis, temperature will increase in the range of 0.9- 1.10C by 2030 whereas rainfall will decline by 25.5 mm/year. The frequency of hot-days and hot-nights will also substantially increase by about 15–29% by 2060. This climate variability has created risky situation in form of unreliable and heavy rainfall, lightning, strong winds, frost, heat waves, droughts, floods and landslides. These affect livestock production and productivity through increased heat stress, reduced feed intake and conversation rate, reduced feed availability, aggravated transmission of animal diseases, increased water scarcity, decreased biodiversity and changing agricultural practices. Thus, climate change is contributing a lot to food shortages and seasonal hunger among livestock keepers. In turn, these are ecological, social and economic impacts at household and national levels. Therefore, there is a need to minimize these negative effects and maintain livestock sector as the mainstay of the national economy and smallholders’ livelihood. So, efforts should be made by government and non-government bodies to promote adoption of existing adaption strategies, designing and implementing others.
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Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Working document series
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Open Access
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Web resource