Household headship and climate change adaptation among smallholder farmers in Soroti district, Eastern Uganda

Climate change adaptation is considered an appropriate response to climate change and variability, especially for smallholder farmers to enhance resilience or reduce vulnerability to its effects. However, the response decisions and actions of male and female farmers may be influenced by various factors and factor combinations that are not adequately understood and therefore not well supported. This in turn affects management and ultimately output from their farms. It is hypothesized that both male and female farmers are climate change conscious and responsive; but may have different response behavior. This study sought to investigate what the factors were responsible for climate change adaptation decisions for male and female headed households, and possible benefits, and the extent to which these households might be impacted by their climate change adaptation options. We utilized a combination of descriptive statistics, cross tabulations and logistic regression analysis to analyse the factors that influence the choice decision to adapt to climate change. Gross margin analysis was used to understand the benefits of adaptation and the Trade Off Analysis-Minimum Data model was applied to study the possible impacts of adaptation. Using cross-sectional data collected from 136 households, analysis was undertaken at two levels: pooled sample analysis and a gender disaggregated analysis. Majority of the farmers strongly agreed that there have been observed changes in climate over the past 15 years, and have responded to these changes. Contrary to some evidence from other empirical studies, the results of this study suggest that the number and type of factors that influence the climate change adaptation decision vary considerably between male and female household heads. We found that the climate change adaptation decisions of female heads depended on and were sensitive to more covariates compared to the decisions of male heads of household. The results of this study further suggest that climate change adaptation decisions of female heads are influenced by more liquid household assets and resources such as transport facilities, purchased inputs, information sources and credit while those of male heads are influenced by real estate, especially land. Furthermore, beyond gender, other demographic factors appear to play no significant role in the decision to adapt to climate change. Interestingly, Gross margins from use of adaptation strategies were, overall, found to be similar between male and female headed households while using similar adaptation responses although the area under crop production was significantly different, with female headed households having smaller cropping areas. Results also showed that farmers not using any adaptation practices would be more severely affected by weather changes than those adapting. Female headed households would experience greater negative impacts than male headed households even with the climate change adaptation practices studied, and will be much worse off without adaptation. This study reaffirms the need of gender disaggregated analysis to provide insights into gendered climate change adaptation covariates for improved policies and strategies to effectively respond to climate change. The study recommended timely planting as a sustainable climate change adaptation practice compared to other practices in the area.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Theses and Dissertations
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
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Assoc. Prof. Bernard Bashaasha, Makerere University and Assoc. Prof. Margaret Mangheni, Makerere University
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