Adaptation to climate change in agro-based livelihood systems in Katakwi District, Uganda
Climate change is one of the most serious global problems affecting many sectors in recent decades. In particular, the agriculture sector is most at risk to climate change impact more than ever. The impact is even stronger in Africa where agriculture is truly important for the daily subsistence and where adaptive capacity is low. The main objective of this research study was to examine the impact and adaptation to climate change in agro-based livelihood systems. A cross-sectional survey design was used, employing both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Furthermore, a multistage sampling strategy was used to purposively select the Sub-County for the research investigation. Three villages were selected to participate in the study. A total of 90 households were selected and studied. Data from the household was obtained using a questionnaire with both closed and open ended questions. The study also used structured interviews to obtain information from key informants and focus group discussions to obtain information on coping and adaptation to climate change. The results of the study show that extreme weather events including high rainfall variability, extended droughts and unexpected heavy rainfall causing floods have become more persistent over time. These have impacted on crop yields and livestock production which are the major sources of household livelihood. On coping and adaptation strategies to the effects of climate change, the study reveals that agro-based households have responded to climate change stress by changing emphasis on crops cultivated over time. Specifically, farmers shift emphasis to crop verities that show resilience in terms of yield and reduce their interest in those that register failing yields. Coping mechanisms used by farmers include changes in crop varieties, adjusting planting dates and mixed cropping, walking long distances in search for water for livestock and substitution of water demanding animals with small ruminants. In conclusion, the study notes that the impact of climate change on agro-based livelihood is enormous as evidenced by factors such as the decline in crop production due to rainfall variability. The study concludes that more emphasis should be put in setting up coping and adaptation strategies such as the growing of early maturing and high yielding crops and constructing small reservoirs based on trapping water at household levels. Key words: Adaptation, Agro-based, climate change, drought, floods, Katakwi District, livelihood systems.