Cohort 2 CIRCLE Visiting Fellow
There are several scientific debates on climate change and its impacts on man and the physical environment. The evidence used in these debates has shown that climate change is a global issue and that one small attempt may not significantly curb its extreme events and their impacts. The majority of the evidence used is, therefore, based on projections from climate change models. However, climate change models and scenarios for West Africa have some challenges. For example, while some models of precipitation suggest increases, some predict decreases and other studies, such as a recent report from IPCC, reveal uncertainty about future rainfall patterns. Another set of debates on climate change are those around adaptation amongst rural people, especially smallholder farmers in Africa. Key issues around climate variability/change impacts, awareness and adaptations are not only restricted to climate scientists, but also a big threat facing rural farmers. Some scientists, however, notice that local farmers’ knowledge of climate change is insufficient for rigorous evaluation of planned adaptation.
A local livestock farmer taken during the field work
Based on this assumption, my CIRCLE-funded research set out with the main objective of testing whether farmers’ perceptions of climate change/variability are consistent with scientific analysis. Using ethnographic and meteorological analysis, the study aims to compare the climate change perceptions of both crop and livestock farmers with historical meteorological analysis. The field work is centered on three research questions: (1) has rainfall and temperature varied/changed in the study area over the past three decades?; (2) to what extent do rural farmers in Southwestern Nigeria perceive changes in climate?; and (3) how do rural farmers’ perceptions of climate change compare with the trends from historical climatic data? The field work was conducted in Akeredolu, Alaguntan, Faforiji, Igboho, Igbope, Ilora, Iseyin, Odemuyiwa Kisi and Shaki.
|Field Research team. L – R: Mercy Idowu
Olamisegbe; Ayansina Ayanlade; Kehinde Alao;
and Foluso Elizabeth Omotoso
What is obvious from observations in the field is the close link between climate and farming activates in the region of study. This is because the majority of farming practices are rain-fed. During in-depth interviews and focus group discussions the majority of farmers claimed that they “observe that rain falls for a short time and the duration is limited compared to the past 30 years”. The majority of the farmers had experienced prolonged dry spells and the recurrence of drought. Nearly all the farmers perceived that the onset of rainfall is much later recently than over the last 30 years. They had also noticed that rainfall now ceases half way into the end of the normal wet season months. Most of the farmers claimed that the overall impacts of climate change on both crop and livestock are estimated to be highly negative, much more on maize, yam, and rice and unexpectedly high on cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep and goats.
|Photograph taken during interviews and focus group discussions|
As yet, we have little idea of how farmers’ perception of climate change closely mirrors the climatic trend from the scientific meteorological analysis. The major objective of the next stage is to test whether farmer’s perceptions of climate change/variability are consistent with climatic trend analysis. The rural farmers awareness of climate change, its impacts and their speciﬁc adaptation measures, will be seen as science-driven assessments for appraising the trend of rainfall and temperature during rainy and dry season; patterns of onset; and length of rainy season with their seasonal variability.