Ghana Journal of Geography

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Perceptions of drought among rural farmers in the Savelugu district in the northern Savannah of Ghana

FX Jarawura


Drought is one of the most constraining climate extremes to livelihoods particularly in dryland environments. Effective adaptation to drought is partly dependent on farmers’ perceptions and how these are harmonised with scientific knowledge systems into local adaptation policies and strategies. This paper examined the perceptions of drought among farmers in five villages in the Savelugu district in northern Ghana using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. Farmers perceived an increased drought risk over the last twenty to forty years, relating this to the frequency of drought occurrence which is considered to be on the rise. Some farmers perceived a reduction in drought intensity and changes in the time dimension of drought occurrence. In addition, some farmers expected the risk of drought to rise in the near future. These observations are partially consistent with the science of climate change. However, the explanations for these perceptions are largely sought in socio-cultural rather than scientific notions. Thus farmers’ responses are not only derived from real experiences and rational explanations of climate experts but also from local non-scientific explanations. The paper therefore argues that effective adaptation to drought rests on the integration of both scientific notions and local perceptions of drought by farmers.

Keywords: Drought, Climate change, Perceptions, Farmers, Adaptation.


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