Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptations of Rural Smallholders in Malawi

Date: 12 Dec 2012
Speaker(s): Andy Dougill, Chloe Sutcliffe and Claire Quinn
Venue: University of Leeds

Part of the CCCEP Lunchtime Seminar Series 2012-13

This presentation outlined the findings of different approaches for assessing climate change vulnerability in sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on studies from rural Malawi.

We examined the scope for integration of international and regional analyses, with insights from local participatory research as a guide to the steps required for improving assessments of climate change vulnerability. This included guidance on how local knowledge on seed and planting choices in relation to rainfall patterns can best be used to help inform locally appropriate extension support for rural communities.

Our results suggest that, in rural Malawi (as found in other study regions), climate change vulnerability increases before declining again (in an inverted u-shaped relation) as household incomes grow. The Malawi case, with the high-profile Government support for agricultural technology solutions through new hybrid seeds and fertiliser packs distributed to rural households, provides an interesting insight into the scope for enhanced adoption of innovations as a route to reducing climate change vulnerability.

Findings from a CCCEP PhD project across two Districts of Malawi show that uptake of new technologies is not reaching the poorest of the poor and that perceptions of environmental changes and of the causes of declining harvests differ across households of different wealth status.

Findings from the local-scale need to inform more targeted climate policy at national levels, to ensure that adaptive capacity of different target groups is explicitly recognised in national policies, and that agricultural extension advice adapts to the challenges of enhanced climate variability.

Date and location: 12 December, University of Leeds