Title page for ETD etd-10182011-151131

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Gbetibouo, Glwadys Aymone
URN etd-10182011-151131
Document Title Vulnerability and adaptation of farming to climate change in South Africa
Degree PhD
Department Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development
Advisor Name Title
Prof R Hassan Supervisor
  • climate change and variability
  • agriculture
  • vulnerability
  • perception
  • adaptation
Date 2011-09-09
Availability restricted
This study made an attempt to improve the understanding of the interrelations between climate change and agriculture in South Africa with special focus on the role of human agency in determining vulnerability to climate change.

An indicator approach is adopted to assess the relative distribution of vulnerability across the nine provinces within South Africa. Nineteen indicators drawn from an extensive review of the literature were selected to comprehensively operationalise the concept of vulnerability defined as exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Using data from various secondary sources of national statistics, the principal components analysis was then used to assign weights to the selected indicators and to construct the overall vulnerability index. This analysis revealed that climate change is spatially differentiated across the farming areas in the country. Thus, although a national climate change adaptation policy is necessary, policymakers should develop regionspecific policies and address climate change at provincial level as well as at a lower scale to really tailor to local conditions. The study also demonstrated the multifaceted nature of vulnerability which demands consideration of both climate risk exposure and pre-existing environmental and socio-economic conditions. Indeed, provinces most exposed to the risks of climate change and variability are not necessarily those that are the most vulnerable when socioeconomic factors are taken into account. Vulnerability to climate change is intrinsically linked with the level of socio-economic development. The results showed that the most vulnerable provinces within South Africa are Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, which are all characterised by: i) a high number of small scale farmers relying on rain-fed agriculture; ii) a high level of soil and land degradation; iii) a high rural population density; high unemployment; iv) low literacy levels; and v) a low infrastructure index. Climate change adaptation should therefore be placed within the broader development context and be addressed in concomitance with all pre-existing development problems.

Analyses of farmersí perceptions and adaptation responses to climate change was based on data collected from a survey of 794 farmers sampled in the Limpopo River Basin in South Africa. The study was conducted in two stages. Firstly, the accuracy of farmersí perceptions of climate change was assessed by comparing their perceptions of long-term changes in temperature and rainfall with climate trends recorded at nearby meteorological stations. A seemingly unrelated biprobit model was then employed to investigate factors influencing farmersí perceptions. The analyses revealed that perceptions are not entirely based on actual climate conditions but are also influenced by others factors such as farmersí experience, availability of extension services and access to irrigation and fertile soil. Accordingly, improved farmer education and awareness about climate change and improved access to climate information could enhance adaptive capacity. Secondly, both a Heckman probit model and a Multinomial logit model were applied to investigate the determinants of farmersí adaptation strategies to climate change. The results indicated that tenure security; farmersí asset base, farming experience, and access to water, credit, extension services, off-farm income and employment opportunities; are keys to enhancing farmersí adaptive capacity. Appropriate government interventions to improve farmersí access to and the status of these factors are therefore needed for reducing farmersí vulnerability to climate adversities.

© 2011 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Gbetibouo, GA 2011, Vulnerability and adaptation of farming to climate change in South Africa, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-10182011-151131/ >


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