Perception and adaptation responses to climate change: an assessment of smallholder livestock farmers in Amathole District Municipality, Eastern Cape Province
Livestock is a critical asset for many rural poor, however, the current climate crisis is affecting livestock farmers. A cross-sectional household survey was conducted in order to assess the farmers’ perceptions of climate change, and its impact on production and adaptation responses. Using a multistage sampling procedure, a total of 142 smallholder livestock farmers were selected from 18 villages across the study area. Descriptive and inferential statistical tools were used and the observed results showed that there has been a perceived drastic decline in rainfall in the area over the last 25 years. Some of the perceived impacts were poor vegetation and limited grazing, scarcity of water resources, decreased livestock growth rate, weight, milk production and reproduction rates. Adaptation responses were limited as the results showed that the only response measures taken amongst the many options available were changing grazing routes, increasing grazing distances, destocking, water harvesting and storage, and increased dependence on social welfare. An examination of farmers’ perceptions of their adopted responses showed that none of the response measures were perceived as significantly effective. The lack of effective response to the climate change crisis is a cause for concern, as the livestock industry is endemic to the region and sustains families and entire communities.
Keywords: Drought, Effectiveness, Perception, Risks