ArticlePDF Available

A countrywide multi-ethnic assessment of local communities' perception of climate change in Benin (West Africa)

Authors:
  • Université Nationale d'Agriculture, Bénin

Abstract and Figures

Climate change poses significant challenges to biodiversity, food security, water availability and health, especially in Africa. Research within local communities can lead to a better understanding of the observed changes in climate, and help to find more appropriate strategies for dealing with them. A number of studies have been carried out in West Africa, but most focus on Sahelian countries and all focus on a single area with one or two ethnic groups. Therefore, to determine whether a countrywide multi-ethnic assessment could provide more accurate information, we studied perceptions of climate change in local communities in Benin. Two focus groups (men and women) were carried out in nine villages. Local farmers and herders were asked about the changes in climate they have observed, the effects of these changes, and how they have adapted to them. Observed changes in climate followed a latitudinal trend, and were in agreement with available climatic studies. Some of the observed changes in climate had not been reported before for this latitude in West Africa. The effects of these climatic changes and the adaptive strategies used differed between areas and ethnic groups. Some adaptive strategies were only used by some ethnic groups. We found that the main obstacles preventing communities from adopting new strategies were unavailability of credit, lack of improved seeds and insufficient information. The findings support the conclusion that country-level multi-ethnic assessments provide key information for both climate change research and policy development.
Content may be subject to copyright.
This article was downloaded by: [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez]
On: 19 November 2012, At: 08:11
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,
37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Climate and Development
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tcld20
A countrywide multi-ethnic assessment of local
communities’ perception of climate change in Benin
(West Africa)
Aida Cuni Sanchez a , Belarmain Fandohan b , Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo b & Brice Sinsin b
a Environment Department, University of York, Heslington, YO10 5DD, York, UK
b Laboratoire d'Ecologie Appliquée, Université d'Abomey Calavi, République du Bénin,
01BP:526, Cotonou, Benin
Version of record first published: 19 Nov 2012.
To cite this article: Aida Cuni Sanchez, Belarmain Fandohan, Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo & Brice Sinsin (2012): A
countrywide multi-ethnic assessment of local communities’ perception of climate change in Benin (West Africa), Climate and
Development, 4:2, 114-128
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17565529.2012.728126
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE
Full terms and conditions of use: http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions
This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic
reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to
anyone is expressly forbidden.
The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents
will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should
be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims,
proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in
connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
RESEARCH ARTICLE
A countrywide multi-ethnic assessment of local communities’ perception of climate change
in Benin (West Africa)
Aida Cuni Sanchez
a
, Belarmain Fandohan
b
, Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
b
and Brice Sinsin
b
a
Environment Department, University of York, Heslington, YO10 5DD, York, UK;
b
Laboratoire d’Ecologie Applique
´e, Universite
´
d’Abomey Calavi, Re
´publique du Be
´nin, 01BP:526, Cotonou, Benin
Climate change poses significant challenges to biodiversity, food security, water availability and health, especially in Africa.
Research within local communities can lead to a better understanding of the observed changes in climate, and help to find
more appropriate strategies for dealing with them. A number of studies have been carried out in West Africa, but most
focus on Sahelian countries and all focus on a single area with one or two ethnic groups. Therefore, to determine whether
a countrywide multi-ethnic assessment could provide more accurate information, we studied perceptions of climate
change in local communities in Benin. Two focus groups (men and women) were carried out in nine villages. Local
farmers and herders were asked about the changes in climate they have observed, the effects of these changes, and how
they have adapted to them. Observed changes in climate followed a latitudinal trend, and were in agreement with
available climatic studies. Some of the observed changes in climate had not been reported before for this latitude in West
Africa. The effects of these climatic changes and the adaptive strategies used differed between areas and ethnic groups.
Some adaptive strategies were only used by some ethnic groups. We found that the main obstacles preventing
communities from adopting new strategies were unavailability of credit, lack of improved seeds and insufficient
information. The findings support the conclusion that country-level multi-ethnic assessments provide key information for
both climate change research and policy development.
Keywords: adaptation; Africa; Benin; climate change; local farmers
1. Introduction
Anticipated climate changes pose great threats to food and
water security, public health, natural resources and biodi-
versity (McCarthy, Canziani, Leary, Dokken, & White,
2001). Low-income countries are likely to be more severely
affected because of their lack of adaptive capacity. Adap-
tive capacity refers to the potential or ability of a commu-
nity to cope with, adapt to, or recover from the effects of
an exposure (Adger, 2003).
Africa is also one of the most vulnerable continents to
climate change, because additional confounding challenges
interact. These include poverty, infrastructural and techno-
logical challenges, political conflict and degradation of eco-
systems (Boko et al., 2007). Sub-Saharan Africa also has
the highest proportion of malnourished populations in the
world (FAO, 2008).
Continental-based climate assessments show that
Africa is likely to experience marked climatic changes,
with drying and warming in most subtropical regions and
slight increases in precipitation in the tropics (Boko et al.,
2007). It has been estimated that regions across Africa
will experience median temperature increases between
3–48C in all seasons (Christensen et al., 2007). This is
higher than the projected global mean, with drier subtropi-
cal regions experiencing more warming than the wetter
tropics.
Predicted changes in climate are likely to affect crop
survival and yield. Several modelling studies carried out
in South Asia (e.g. Aggarwal & Mall, 2002) have shown
that increases in temperature lead to a decrease in the
length of the growing season and the yield of most crops.
Maize production in the tropics is predicted to decline by
10% (Jones & Thornton, 2003), with regions such as the
Sahel suffering disproportionately. Pests, diseases and
weeds are likely to become more prevalent with a
warmer climate (Kandji, Verchot, & Mackensen, 2006).
Ole, Cheikh, Anette, and Awa (2009) asserted that the
analysis of 9,000 farmers in 11 African countries predicted
falling in-farm revenues under current climate scenarios.
Climate change could also negatively affect some of the
wild plant species commonly used by local communities,
such as the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata), a multipur-
pose species which provides food, medicine and income
to rural populations in dryland Africa (Wickens & Lowe,
ISSN 1756-5529 print/ISSN 1756-5537 online
#2012 Taylor & Francis
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17565529.2012.728126
http://www.tandfonline.com
Corresponding author. Email: aidacuni@hotmail.com
Climate and Development
Vol. 4, No. 2, April 2012, 114128
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
2008). It appears that climate change will negatively affect
the distribution of the baobab across the continent (Cuni
Sanchez, Osborne, & Haq, 2011).
In general and until the past few years, consideration of
climate change adaptation has been undertaken largely
independently of both the literature and the practice of
development (Huq, Reid, & Murray, 2006). However,
both research on climate change adaptation and develop-
ment programmes increasingly recognise the need for com-
munities to participate in formulating and implementing
adaptation strategies (Pouliotte, Smit, & Westerhoff,
2009). One approach that is gaining attention is commu-
nity-based adaptation (CBA), a bottom-up approach
which emphasises the need to understand and take into
account community experiences of vulnerability and the
adaptation strategies that are employed at the community
level (Huq & Reid, 2007).
In many parts of Africa, local communities have shown
themselves to hold a great knowledge of their environment
(e.g. Assogbadjo et al., 2008; Fandohan et al., 2010, Fando-
han, Assogbadjo, Gle
`le
`Kakaı¨, & Sinsin, 2011; Wezel &
Haigis, 2000). Local communities have also adapted to
changing environmental conditions without input from
outside the community. For example, in central Mali, in
order to reduce the risk of crop failure, local farmers have
recently cultivated more land surface with varieties of
pearl millet Pennisetum glaucum (e.g. sunnani variety)
that require a shorter growing season (Wernar, Diarra,
Hu
¨lsebusch, & Kaufmann, 2010). Moreover, as in many
parts of Africa, rural farmers tend to live in the same
village where they were born, they are potentially a
‘living’ record of observed changes in climate, which
could be used to complement the lack of accurate long-
term meteorological information for some parts of West
Africa. Therefore, local communities’ knowledge offers
both the opportunity to better understand the observed
changes in climate, and to suggest more adequate strategies
for dealing with climatic change. Despite this opportunity,
the value of local knowledge in climate change studies has
received only moderate attention (Mertz, Mbow, Reenberg,
& Diouf, 2009). In Western Africa, a number of studies
have been carried out (e.g. Ayanwuyi, Kuponiyi, Ogunlade,
& Oyetoro, 2010; Barbier,Yacouba, Karambiri, Zorome
´,&
Some
´, 2009; Mertz et al., 2009; West, Roncoli, & Ouattara,
2008). However, most of them have been carried out in
Sahelian countries and focus on a single village/area with
one or two ethnic groups. It is possible that there are
large differences between regions, villages and households
(e.g. Elmqvist & Olsson, 2006; Goulden, Naess, Vincent,
& Adger, 2009). Different ethnic groups often have differ-
ent livelihood strategies, such as semi-nomadic pastoral-
ism, rice farming or fishing. They may also have different
ethno-botanical uses for the same plants, as well as prefer-
ences for different kinds of plants (e.g. Assogbadjo et al.,
2008; Fandohan et al., 2010). Different ethnic groups can
also have different food preferences (A. Cuni Sanchez
and B. Fandohan, personal observation, 2011). A country-
wide multi-ethnic assessment would not only provide a
broader view of patterns of climatic change, but it would
also help assemble a large number of adaptive strategies
used by a range of ethnic groups. These strategies could
then be suggested as for application in other villages.
Therefore, this paper aims to (i) identify the changes in
climate observed by different local communities, and
their causes and effects on the environment; (ii) determine
which strategies people have used or could use to cope with
and adapt to these changes, and what the constraints are on
adopting them, and (iii) assess differences in perception
and adaptation related to gender and ethnicity. As
suggested by West et al. (2008), our goal is not to assert
that one type of knowledge is more valid than another
(e.g. local knowledge or meteorological data), but instead
to enhance our understanding of how long-term climatic
fluctuations in Western Africa are experienced by the
people most affected.
2. Methodology
2.1. Background
Benin, a small country south of the Sahel, was chosen as
the focus of this research, because it is a multi-ethnic
country with differentiated climatic zones, where (as far
as we understand) no similar research has been carried
out. Insights from Benin are used to identify wider
lessons for Western Africa.
Benin is a tropical country with three bio-climatic
zones: Sudanian in the north, Sudano-Guinean in the
centre and Guineo-Congolian in the south (White,
1983). The Sudanian zone is characterised by an unimodal
rainfall regime with a mean annual rainfall between 680
and 950 mm. Mean annual temperature ranges between
26 and 408C and annual temperature amplitude is high,
that is 11– 138C. The influence of the Harmattan (a dry
wind that blows from the south from the Sahara) is impor-
tant in this region. The Sudano-guinean zone is character-
ised by a pattern of one rainy season and one dry season.
Mean annual rainfall ranges between 900 and 1100 mm, and
mean annual temperature between 25 and 298C. The
Guineo-Congolian zone has a bi-modal rainfall regime
with two rainy seasons alternating with a long dry season
(December–February) and a short dry season (July–
August). Mean annual rainfall is about 1200 mm and
mean annual temperature ranges between 25 and 298C.
Benin’s population is made of more than 60 ethnic
groups. In the north the main groups are Bariba and
related ethnic groups (REG); Betammaribe
`and REG; and
Fulani and REG, which comprise about 9, 6 and 6% of
the total population of Benin, respectively. In the centre
and south of Benin, the main ethnic groups are Fon and
Climate and Development 115
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
REG; Adja-Kotafon and REG; and Yorouba and REG,
which comprise about 42, 16 and 12 of the total population,
respectively (Floquet & Akker, 2000).
In most of Benin, agriculture is rain-fed. The typical
form of agricultural land use is the parkland agroforestry
system, which involves intercropping agricultural crops
under scattered mature trees in cultivated fields (Boffa,
1999). The trees are selectively retained by farmers
because of the variety of non-timber uses such as food
and medicinal use (Teklehaimanot, 2004). Some of the
tree species commonly found in the parklands are the
Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa), the African locust bean
(Parkia biglobosa), the baobab tree and the tamarind
(Tamrindus indica) (Boffa, 1999).
In the north, farmers commonly grow pearl millet and
sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) as staple food crops. Many
farmers also grow cotton (Gossypium spp.), which is a
main commercial crop of the region. In central Benin,
farmers commonly grow maize (Zea mays), cotton
(Gossypium spp.) and yam (Diocorea spp.). In the south,
maize and cassava (Manihot esculenta) are the major
food crops. Among legumes, beans (Phaseolus spp.) and
peanuts (Arachis hypogea) are cultivated and widely
consumed throughout the country and are appreciated
because they improve soil fertility (van den Akker, 2000).
Participants in this study often practice gathering wild
resources as well as crop and livestock production to
fulfil needs for energy, clothing, health and cash income,
as well as direct food requirements.
Since the early 1990s Benin has been a multiparty
democracy. Following a decentralisation process in
2001, the country’s political system divided both horizon-
tally and vertically, and became more institutionalised
(Bange
´as, 2003). With regard to agricultural advice at the
local level, the CeRPA (Centre Regional de la Promotion
de l’Agriculture), a decentralised body linked to the Minis-
try of Agriculture, is the organ in charge of giving advice
and technical help to farmers. However, in reality this
institution has limited financial and human resources, like
other decentralised institutions in Benin, and its efficiency
has been questioned (Hountondji et al., 2000). Farmers’
groups are the only civil organisations related to agriculture
at the local level are. Historically farmers’ groups were set
up by the government to improve cotton production, but
they were unpopular and tended to decrease in number
with the decline of this export culture (Hountondji et al.,
2000). However, it seems that nowadays farmers’ groups
are slowly emerging for small-scale trade, but their
current means and/or level of organisation are still very
weak, and they receive no government subsidy (unpub-
lished results). It should be noted that in Benin, it appears
that groups do not often mobilise spontaneously, but
rather as a result of NGO’s demands, as a condition to
benefit from international development projects (unpub-
lished results).
2.2. Data collection
We selected nine villages following ethnicity and a latitu-
dinal gradient (Figure 1, Table 1). At least one co-author
had previously worked in these villages doing research
not linked with climate change. In Benin, ethnic groups
are not evenly distributed, and, in most cases, their liveli-
hood strategies are related to their geographical location.
While most ethnic groups have been farmers for at least
three generations, the Peuhl remain mainly herders
(Table 1).
In order to avoid social norms related to gender, in each
village two focus groups were carried out, one with only
men and the other with only women during February and
March 2011. Six participants aged 45 years and above par-
ticipated in each focus group. Although no incentive was
given, most of these participants were village elders who
are generally interested in collaborating with students
from the local university. All participants were small-
scale farmers (or herders) who owned land, and most
were illiterate (only five of 108 participants in the focus
groups were literate). The groups were facilitated and trans-
lated by the second author, along with a person of the same
ethnicity as the group being studied, who also had previous
experience of focus groups discussions. We chose to use
focus group discussions as they are one of the first steps
towards CBA.
We collected data through semi-structured interviews,
which included local farmers’ observations on differ-
ences in climate, the adaptive strategies they have used
to cope with or adapt to these new conditions and the
strategies that could be used in the future. We laid ques-
tions as an open topic for discussion and all comments
made were recorded. In this paper the term ‘adaptive
strategies’ refers to two types of strategy: not only
those that have been evolved to reduce overall vulner-
ability to climate shocks (which are usually called ‘adap-
tive strategies’), but also those that have been evolved to
manage their impacts ex post named ‘coping strat-
egies’. This is because the distinction between these
two categories is frequently blurred (Davies, 1996),
and strategies that might begin as coping strategies in
exceptional years can become adaptations for households
or whole communities (Morton, 2007). It should be
noted that adaptive strategies might be positive (in
some cases proactive) and maladaptive (in some cases
reactive). This distinction was not made in this study
and it is further discussed in Cuni Sanchez, Baudoin,
and Fandohan (2012).
2.3. Data analyses
All comments made in a single focus group were con-
sidered to be a general opinion of the group if no clear dis-
agreement between individuals was observed during the
discussion. Data were pooled per focus group (male and
116 A. Cuni Sanchez et al.
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
female focus groups separate) and therefore the focus group
was the main unit of analysis.
Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was used to
identify the main themes of the discussions. The statistics
software package Minitab was used to explore the results.
The relationships between gender and the perception of
climatic changes, the effects of climatic change, and
adaptation strategies used were estimated with cross-
tabulation, and
x
2
tests (P,0.05) were used to assess the
significance of those relationships. However, the relation-
ships between ethnicity and perception of climatic
changes, the effects of climatic changes, and adaptation
strategies, could not be estimated with cross-tabulation
tables (due to the high number of cells with expected
counts less than 1) and were analysed qualitatively, by
organising results in tables, each column being an ethnic
group (see Tables 2– 4).
2.4. Comparison with previous studies
We compared our findings with studies on climate change
perceptions carried out in other countries in West Africa
(e.g. Ayanwuyi et al., 2010; Barbier et al., 2009; Mertz
et al., 2009; West et al., 2008). Senegal and Burkina Faso
are situated north of Benin and closer to the Sahara
desert. The climatic zones of these two countries range
from Sudanian (like north Benin) to Sahelian (,600 mm
annual rainfall). Nigeria is situated at the same latitude as
Benin, although southern Nigeria is much wetter compared
with southern Benin, despite both areas being in the
Guineo-Congolian zone (White, 1983).
Senegal, Burkina Faso and Nigeria are also multi-
ethnic, and although most of the ethnic groups of Benin
are not found elsewhere, other ethnic groups in these
three countries have similar livelihood strategies. Fulani
herders, however, are found in Senegal, Burkina Faso and
Figure 1. Study area and selected villages in Benin.
Climate and Development 117
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
Nigeria. In these three countries, agriculture is also rainfed
and the typical form of agricultural land use is parkland.
The crops cultivated in these countries are the same as
those grown in Benin, although the importance of each
crop as staple food might change between them.
3. Results
3.1. Observed changes in climate, environment and
in crops, cattle and fruiting trees
In all focus groups participants stated that they had
observed changes in climate. Differences in observed
changes in climate were mainly related to latitude and not
to differences in ethnicity within a given region (north,
centre or south; see Table 2) or gender (in the cross-tabula-
tion tables, P.0.05,
x
2
test).
In all focus groups carried out in the north of Benin,
participants expressed that the rainy season came later
and was shorter than it was some decades ago (Table 2).
It was also mentioned that the pattern of rainfall during
the rainy season had become more irregular (five of eight
focus groups in the north) and temperatures during the
dry season were higher (seven of eight focus groups in
the north) (Table 2). Although in five of eight focus
groups in the north it was mentioned that the Harmattan
was greater, four of eight focus groups noted that severe
floods were taking place more often, and two of eight
focus groups stated that the rains were no longer geographi-
cally evenly distributed (Table 2).
In all focus groups in central Benin, participants men-
tioned that the first small rainy season had become
shorter and that the pattern of rainfall during this first
rainy season was very irregular, so that they could no
longer consider it a ‘rainy season’ during which crops
such as maize could be grown (Table 2). In four of six
focus groups it was stated that, in general, there was less
rainfall (Table 2). In some focus groups it was also men-
tioned that the amount of rainfall during the second rainy
season was much greater than it used to be (two of six
focus groups), temperatures during the dry season were
higher (three of six focus groups), the Harmattan was
greater (one of six focus groups) and the first rains were
no longer geographically even distributed (one of six
focus groups) (Table 2).
In all focus groups in the south, it was mentioned that
the first rainy season started later than it used to (at least
1 month) and was very irregular (Table 2). It was also men-
tioned in all focus groups that nowadays the second rainy
season starts when the soil is still flooded, which means
that farmers cannot prepare the fields to sow. In three of
four focus groups it was said that the amount of precipi-
tation during this second rainy season had increased
(Table 2). In all focus groups it was mentioned that
severe floods had become more common, and that the
temperature during the dry season has increased (Table
2). In one focus group it was also mentioned that the first
rains were no longer as evenly distributed, geographically
(Table 2).
Apart from the changes in climate mentioned above, in
several focus groups it was stated that the environment had
been degraded, for example that soils had become less
fertile. Participants identified a number of factors to be
the major causes of environmental degradation, including
removal of trees and/or grass cover; increasing frequency
of bush fires; reduction of cow manure, which is commonly
Table 1. Selected villages and their major ethnic group
Area Village Ethnic group Characteristics
North Karimama Dendi Traditionally fresh-water fishermen, who cultivate some crops. Their settlements are
found along rivers in northern Benin
Mamassi Peuhl Fulani Traditionally nomadic cattle herders, who have both cows and goats
Mamassi Gourma Gourmanche
´Traditionally savannah hunters who gradually became farmers. They are commonly
settled around major Protected Areas, where large mammals can still be found
Gogounou Bariba Traditionally savannah hunters who gradually became farmers. They are the major cotton
farmers of Benin. They are a widespread ethnic group with a large social hierarchical
structure
Centre Bassila Agni Traditionally forest hunters who gradually became farmers. They are native to Bassila
area, which is largely forested
Bante
`Itcha Traditionally forest hunters who gradually became farmers. They are commonly found
around the hills of west-central Benin.
Kpakpa Igbo Idatcha Traditionally forest hunters who gradually became farmers. They are commonly found
around the hills of east-central Benin
South Athie
´me
´Kotafon Traditionally fresh-water fishermen who gradually became farmers along major rivers
and lakes in south-west Benin
Grand Popo Peda Traditionally marine fishermen, who gradually became farmers. They are found along
the west coastline
All ethnic groups are now farmers except Fulani which remain mainly herders. Note that most ethnic groups have been farmers for a period of time (at least
three generations) and the change has not happened during the last decade due to climatic changes.
118 A. Cuni Sanchez et al.
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
Table 2. Observed changes in climate and possible explanations per ethnic group and gender focus-group
North Center South
Total
Dendi Peuhl Gourma. Bariba Agni Itcha Idatcha Kotafon Pe
´da
MWMW M W MW M W M W M W M W M W
Observed changes in climate
Rainy season
Late onset rainy season x x x x x x x x 1st 1st 1st 1st 12
Early onset rainy season 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 4
Shorter length rainy
season
x x x x x x x x 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 14
Decreased amount
rainfall
xxxxxx 6
Increased amount
rainfall
2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd 5
Irregularity of rains
(drought pockets)
x x x x x 1st 1st/2nd 1st/2nd 1st 1st 1st/2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st 15
Irregular spatial
distribution of rains
xx x x 4
Floods
Severe floods take place
more often
xxx x xxxx8
Temperature
During the dry season
temperatures are higher
x xxxxxxxx x xxxx14
Harmattan
Greater in terms of
greater winds
xx xx x 5
Greater in terms of
colder temperatures
xx 2
Possible explanations of the observed climatic changes
God has changed the climate x x x x x x 6
People have cut down too many trees x x x x x x x x x x x x x 13
People cultivate too much land (no time for fallows) x x 2
The desert is advancing x x2
People cut the grass and the soil becomes poorer x 1
Traditional ceremonies no longer used x 1
We do not know why x x x x x x 6
Gourma refers to Gourmanche
´ethnic group. 1st refers to only the first rainy season and 2nd to the second one (if they have 2 rainy seasons in the area). N
o
refers to number of focus-groups which mentioned that
explanation of the total number of 18.
M, men; W, women.
Climate and Development 119
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
Table 3. Observed changes in crops, cattle and fruiting trees, per ethnic group and focus group
North Center South
Dendi Peuhl Gourma. Bariba Agni Itcha Idatcha Kotafon Pe
´da
M WMWMWMWMWMWMWMWMW
Observed changes in crops, cattle and fruiting trees
Crops
Some varieties can no longer be grown 1,2 22 2
Some crops can no longer be grown twice a year 1 2 2 2 2 2
Crops in general have lower yields x x x x x x x x x x x x
Vegetables do not ’grow well’ xxxx
More insects affect crops xx
Cattle
Cattle produce less milk x x
Fruiting trees
Tree yield has declined because trees are older x
Tree yield has declined due to reduced precipitation x x x x x x x x x x x
Tree yield has declined due to greater winds x x x
Tree yield has declined due to more insects x
Trees which fruited twice a year now only fruit once x
Notes: Gourma refers to Gourmanche
´ethnic group. 1 and 2 refers to pearl millet and maize, respectively. M, men; W, women.
120 A. Cuni Sanchez et al.
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
Table 4. Adaptive strategies used per ethnic group and focus group
North Center South
Dendi Peuhl Gourma. Bariba Agni Itcha Idatcha Kotafon Pe
´da
MWMWMWMWMWMWMWMWMW
Adaptive strategies used
Cultivate new crops/varieties
Grow new crops (rice) and more vegetables x
Grow different varieties of crops x x x x x x x x x x x
Plant Eucaliptus and Acacia spp. x
Change planting dates
Sow crops earlier in the year x x x
Sow crops later in the year xx
Change planting practices
Grow sesame instead of maize the first rainy season x x x x
Grow crops in new areas (e.g., the riverbed) x x x
Grow each year, no time for fallow x
Cultivate more land (yields are lower) x
Increase inputs
Use fertilisers xx
Use insecticides (for beans mainly) xx
Change livelihood strategies
Grow crops (apart from having cattle) x x
Have fewer animals (some family members migrated south) x x
Change time patterns during the day
Wake up earlier to take out the cattle/farm the fields x x
Gourma refers to Gourmanche
´ethnic group.
M, men; W, women.
Climate and Development 121
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
left in the fields after crops had been harvested; and/or
reduced fallow period. In 2 of 18 focus groups, it was men-
tioned that soils had recently become so poor that even if
they tried to plant some of the tree species they used to
plant (e.g. the Shea tree) seeds would not germinate or
seedlings would die soon afterwards.
In all focus groups changes in crops, cattle and/or fruit-
ing trees were reported (Table 3). In general, it was men-
tioned that crops have lower yields than they used to
have decades ago, and that some crop varieties could no
longer be grown (twice or even once a year). Furthermore,
in some regions wild fruit tree density and fruit yield had
declined (Table 3). In the focus groups with herders
(Fulani ethnic group), it was highlighted that cows pro-
duced less milk (Table 3).
Observed changes in crops, cattle and fruit trees also
followed a latitudinal pattern but, unlike climatic obser-
vations, not all focus groups in one zone reported exactly
the same changes. Some changes were only reported in
one focus group (Table 3). While some clear differences
were observed between livelihood strategies related to eth-
nicity (especially herders), gender was not found to have an
effect (in the cross-tabulation tables, P.0.05,
x
2
test).
3.2. Potential explanations of the observed changes
in climate
Participants explained the observed changes in a range of
ways. God was deemed responsible in 6 of 18 focus
groups. Other explanations (see Table 2) included the fact
that many trees had been cut down (13 of 18 focus
groups), the reduced length of fallow periods (2 of 18
focus groups) and the fact that the ‘desert is advancing
towards us’ (2 of 18 focus groups). Some differences
were observed between gender and ethnicity, but no clear
pattern was found (Table 2). No participant mentioned
the term climate change (or any similar phenomena even
described in other words) as a possible cause of the
observed changes in climate, and no participant suggested
that the trend in the observed changes in climate was
sub-regional, regional or global. In general, locals per-
ceived climate as something ‘superior’ depending on God
or ancestors and not really depending on them.
3.3. Strategies used to cope with or adapt to the
changes
Several strategies were used to cope with and adapt to the
observed changes in climate and the environment. For
example, farmers might cultivate new crops or varieties;
change the date of planting; change planting practices;
increase inputs; change livelihood strategie; and change
patterns of work (Table 4). While some strategies were
mentioned in most focus groups (e.g. grow different var-
ieties of crop), some were only mentioned in one. There
was neither a clear latitudinal trend (see Table 4) nor an
effect of gender (in the cross-tabulation tables, P.0.05,
x
2
test). While some strategies mentioned were pro-active
(e.g. grow new varieties of certain crop), others were reac-
tive (e.g. increased use of pesticides), and some were linked
with development projects (e.g. growing vegetables during
the dry season).
3.4. Other potential solutions and constraints
Other potential strategies identified in the focus groups
were plant more trees (10 of 18 focus groups); increase irri-
gation in order to cultivate during the dry season (3 of 18
focus groups); stop bush fires (1 of 18 focus groups);
stop cutting grass and giving more freedom to cattle so
that they fertilise the soil (1 of 18 focus groups); extend
the use of fertilisers (3 of 18 focus groups); grow other
crops or new varieties (3 of 18 focus groups); cultivate
new areas (2 of 18 focus groups); pray to God (1 of 18
focus groups); ask village elders to carry out traditional cer-
emonies (1 of 18 focus groups); and complement agricul-
tural activities with other activities such as fish farming,
because large areas of land is becoming flooded for
longer periods (1 of 18 focus groups).
The major constraints to adopting new adaptive strat-
egies were found to be lack of funds; the availability of
improved seeds; and access to information on adaptive
strategies (each constraint was reported in each focus
group).
3.5. Information on the following growing season
In 11 of 18 focus groups’ participants mentioned that they
relied on village elders or specialists to determine whether
the following season would result in a good harvest, and
some of them mentioned that village elders’ predictions
were not as accurate as they used to be. Most participants
also said that they used personal observations, which
include looking at the shape of the clouds before the
firsts rains; the timing and quantity of the first rains; the
timing, size or direction of the first rainbow before the
rainy season; the temperature of the dry season; the water
level of the river; and the ‘health’ status of some tree
species (number of fruits, flowers or leaves). The use of
the radio or another external source of information was
only mentioned in 3 of 18 focus groups.
4. Discussion
4.1. Changes in climate and the environment
In the 18 focus groups in this study, participants reported
changes in timing and quantity of rainfall, temperature
and the Harmattan. Participants from different ethnic
groups and genders living in the same zone (north, centre
122 A. Cuni Sanchez et al.
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
or south) reported similar changes in climate. These
observed changes in climate are in agreement with
farmers perceptions in other countries of West Africa
(Table 5). Moreover, in general, there is convergence
between local perceptions in Benin and available scientific
climatic reports (Table 5). For example, the last report from
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
stated that temperature in Western Africa has risen at a
rate of 0.178C per decade between 1970 and 2004 (IPCC,
2007). With regard to winds, no published reports mention-
ing increased winds during the Harmattan could be found.
Despite IPCC reported increased temperatures, it should
also be noted that locals may feel that it is hotter or more
windy now than before because there are fewer trees in
the area, which means less shade and lower air humidity.
In the north, local perceptions agree with the findings of
Wezel, Bohlinger, and Bo¨cker (2000) who reported that
mean annual rainfall in northern Benin has decreased in
recent decades. However, according to other reports,
there is little difference in the amount of precipitation
received in Benin during the last 50 years. It seems that
what is actually changing is the distribution of the rainfall
during the year: instead of being more or less constant
throughout the rainy season, in the last few years, there
are periods of heavy rains and dry spells within the rainy
season (MEPN, 2008). In the South, local perceptions
agree with the findings of Ahomadegbe, Ozer, and Dogot
(2010), who reported that the first and main rainy season
tends to start later than March since the 1970s, with a stea-
dily increasing delay, and with Ago (2005) and Ernest,
Camberlin, and Perard (2008), who reported that average
precipitation has increased since the droughts in the
1960s, but with local variation. In central Benin,
however, local perceptions do not correspond with the
idea that the Sudano-Guinean zone of Benin shows a ten-
dency towards a unimodal rainfall regime (e.g. Adomou,
2005). From the point of view of local people, this was
not the case a few decades ago and this should not be con-
sidered ‘normal’. Further research might be able to confirm
local perceptions on rainfall change in central Benin (e.g.
Baudoin, 2012).
With respect to floods, it appears that they have become
more common and their effects more devastating (Baudoin,
2012). The area where focus groups were carried out is a
flat area between the river Mono and the sea. Floods
have always taken place here, and they are not always
related to heavy rains in the local area but sometimes to
heavy rains upstream in the central region (personal field
data). As people cultivate more land than before, and a
greater proportion of this new land is located next to the
river, and so more liable to flooding, locals are now more
susceptible to the devastating effects of floods. Addition-
ally, locals traditionally relied on fishing for food security
during floods, but reduced fish stocks caused by overfishing
have weakened this lifeline. This further deepens the nega-
tive impacts that floods can have on these communities.
Because there is agreement between farmers’ percep-
tions and available scientific climatic reports, this study
supports the notion that, when meteorological records are
incomplete or non-available, local perceptions of climatic
changes can be used to complement scientific climatic
reports. It should be noted that, to our knowledge, this is
Table 5. Observed changes in climate and in crops, cattle and fruiting trees mentioned in this study with regard to other studies on climatic
perceptions, scientific climatic reports and novelty of our findings
Other studies on climatic
perceptions Scientific climatic reports Novelty of this study
Observed changes in climate and the environment
Increased temperatures during the dry
season
1,2 IPCC (2007) For the Guineo-Congolian
zone
Increased winds during the Harmattan 1 South of the Sahel
Late onset of the rainy season 1,2,3 Wezel et al. (2000)
Dry spells during the rainy season 1,2,3 Wezel et al. (2000)
Change from bimodal to unimodal
rainfall regime
For the Sudano-guinean
zone
Increased rains Ago (2005), Ernest et al.
(2008)
More floods 1,2 Baudoin (2012)
Lower soil fertility 4 Van der Akker (2000)
Observed changes in crops, cattle and fruiting trees
Lower crop yields 1,2 NA
Stunned growth 1,2 NA
More pests 1,2 NA
Cows produce less milk 4 NA For the Sudanian zone
Fruit trees produce fewer fruits 2 NA
Notes: 1, Central Senegal; Mertz et al. (2009). 2, Central Nigeria; Ayanwuyi et al. (2010). 3, Central Burkina Faso; West et al. (2008). 4, Central Burkina
Faso; Barbier et al. (2009).
Climate and Development 123
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
the first study reporting greater winds during the Harmattan
outside the Sahelian zone of Western Africa, and the first
report of local perceptions of heightened temperatures in
the Guineo-Congolian zone (south Benin) of West Africa.
Perceived evidence that the environment has been
degraded, such as reduced soil fertility, also agree with per-
ceptions from Burkina Faso (Barbier et al., 2009) and
scientific reports. Van den Akker (2000) reported a
decrease in soil fertility in certain areas of Benin and
related this to the fact that (i) in some northern parts of
the country the area used to grow cotton exceeds the
limit recommended by the extension service, and (ii) in
some parts of southern Benin maize covers up to three quar-
ters of the cultivated land without input use or a sufficiently
long fallow period.
4.2. The effects of changes in climate and the
environment
The effects of changes in climate and to the environment on
crops, cattle and fruit trees reported in this study seem to be
common elsewhere in West Africa. Low crop yields,
stunted growth and increased attacks from pests and
disease on crops have also been reported by local farmers
in Senegal and Nigeria (Ayanwuyi et al., 2010; Mertz
et al., 2009). Local farmers in Nigeria have reported
changes in how several trees give fruit (Ayanwuyi et al.,
2010), and a decrease in milk production has been reported
from Burkina Faso (Barbier et al., 2009). However, a
decrease in milk production had not been reported before
by herders in the Sudanian zone (north Benin). In
Senegal, local herders reported the negative impact of
extreme heat and cold (greater Harmattan) on livestock
health (Mertz et al., 2009), something not mentioned in
our study, possibly due to differences in latitude (and there-
fore in maximum temperatures).
4.3. Potential explanations for the observed changes
in climate
Potential causes of the observed changes in climate and the
environment identified in the focus groups have also been
reported from other African countries. For example,
about 50% of the farmers interviewed in Mozambique
also considered that God or ancestors were the main
cause of observed changes in climate (Patt & Schro¨ter,
2008). The fact that land degradation was mentioned in
all focus groups shows that local communities are aware
of this issue in Benin. As no participant in any focus
groups mentioned climate change, and no participant had
ever heard of it, the climatic changes observed by the par-
ticipants were not biased by the fact that locals heard about
climate change from extension workers or others and relate
any observed change to climate change, as can be the case
in northern Ethiopia do (Meze-Hausken, 2004).
Despite mentioning land degradation, it should be
noted that most farmers were found to have a rather fatal-
istic approach to climate concerns, with statements like
‘climate is a divine phenomenon that we are not in
charge of’. Similar statements have also been reported
from other parts of West Africa (Ajibade & Shokemi,
2003; Barbier et al., 2009).
4.4. Actual and potential adaptive strategies
Local farmers and herders participating in the focus groups
reported that they already use a number of adaptive strat-
egies. Some of these are found throughout West Africa:
the use of new crop varieties that are more suited to drier
conditions; crop diversification; irrigation for vegetable
production during the dry season; and using organic or
inorganic fertilisers (Ayanwuyi et al., 2010; Barbier et al.,
2009; Mertz et al., 2009). They also mentioned changing
planting dates, promoting the use of pesticides, alternative
sources of income, planting trees and prayers as other adap-
tive strategies. Increased use of fungicides has also been
reported as an adaptive strategy in Nigeria (Ayanwuyi
et al., 2010), while proper timing of agricultural operations
and changing planting dates are adaptive strategies used by
farmers in Tanzania (Mary & Majule, 2009). In Mozambi-
que, prayers and ritual offerings are also used (Patt &
Schro¨ ter, 2008) as well as in other countries in Africa
(Maddison, 2007).
Although adaptive strategies were not the main focus of
this study, it is worth noting that in Benin, especially in the
north and central parts, farmers mainly adapt to climatic
changes on their own. Farmers might be aware of other
adaptive strategies (e.g. they suggested them in the focus-
groups as potential strategies) because they have seen or
heard of other farmers using them, but they do not have
the resources to implement them (see Section 4.5).
Such strategies, if ever implemented, are likely to be the
most successful, as participants are already willing to try
them.
Even though only two focus groups were carried out
with Fulani herders, the findings are of interest because
there are few studies exist that focus on herders’ adaptive
strategies. Fulani herders in north Benin are reported to
use two adaptive strategies: reducing their herds, and
sending more than 50% of their cattle to other wetter
countries such as Ghana, Guinea, Cameroon or even
Congo (Fulani men, personal communication, February
25, 2011). Both strategies have also been mentioned by
herders in Senegal and Burkina Faso (Barbier et al.,
2009; Mertz et al., 2009). Beninese herders also mentioned
having started farming, something not reported from Sahe-
lian countries, probably due to better climatic or soil con-
ditions for agriculture in north Benin. For herders, the
problems are not only related to climatic changes but also
land use changes. Land conflict between herders and
124 A. Cuni Sanchez et al.
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
farmers is common in Western Africa. For example, in the
Central Plateau of Burkina Faso, farmers have also
responded to the decline in seasonal rainfall by expanding
cultivation into lowland areas; areas which have been
subject to increased pressure and competition for resources,
and this exploitation has intensified conflicts with herders
who rely on these areas for grazing their herds (West
et al., 2008). Other adaptive strategies mentioned in
Senegal and Burkina Faso, which could be promoted in
Benin, include fattening of animals and keeping animals
in stables (Barbier et al., 2009; Mertz et al., 2009).
Another option which could be considered is camel
rearing, which seems to be very successful in northern
Kenya (Cuni Sanchez, personal observation, 2011).
However, this option needs to be further studied in the
Benin socio-cultural context, in which Fulani social status
is linked to the number of cows possessed, and in which
there might not be a market for camel milk or meat.
However, both issues were also a problem in northern
Kenya and were addressed by NGOs (A. Cuni Sanchez,
personal observation, 2011).
4.5. Major constraints to adaptation
The main constraints to adopting new adaptive strategies
were found to be a lack of funds, a lack of improved
seeds and a lack of information on adaptive strategies.
The first constraint has also been reported by farmers in
Senegal and Burkina Faso, while the second has also
been reported from Senegal (Barbier et al., 2009; Mertz
et al., 2009). Local farmers in Burkina Faso also reported
the lack of appropriate machinery as a major constraint to
adaptation while in Senegal they reported the lack of
animals to use the plough (Barbier et al., 2009; Mertz
et al., 2009), constraints not reported in our study. Lack
of insurance mechanisms and the importance of forecasts
were not mentioned in this study, which is similar to
results from Burkina Faso (Barbier et al., 2009). Lack of
security of property rights and lack of market access were
hardly mentioned in Benin, as in a cross-country study
carried out in Africa (Maddison, 2007). However, in con-
tradiction to the results from Maddison (2007) and
Barbier et al. (2009), farmers from Benin did mention
lack of access to appropriate seed as something that
needs to be changed to enable them to adapt to changes
in climate.
Policy measures should aim to increase the availability
of funds and improved seeds, and improve dissemination of
relevant information. Extension workers in Benin could
help make farmers aware of different adaptive strategies
and they could also help distribute seeds of improved var-
ieties. Similarly, climatic stations and extension workers
could help farmers know when is the best moment to
start preparing their fields. The radio could be used for
this purpose (see the following section).
4.6. Raising awareness
As previously mentioned, participants in the focus groups
had never heard of the term climate change or any similar
term in their local language. Informing local farmers
about climate change and its potential negative effects
could help farmers realise the scale of the phenomena,
that the patterns they are observing might become more
severe in the future, and that there is a real need to change
the way they cultivate and behave. In Ethiopia, recent
results show that raising awareness about climate change
and the available adaptation options encourages farmers to
adapt (Bryan, Deressa, Gbetibouo, & Ringler, 2009).
Benin farmers still rely on elders’ predictions and/or
their own observations in order to judge the quality of the
coming growing season. Some farmers mentioned that
neither they nor their elders can see the signs they used
to see to identify a good or bad growing season, and if
they do see them their predictions might not be as accurate
as they once were. As suggested by West et al. (2008), the
experience of climate variability has undermined farmers’
confidence in their existing knowledge and practices.
This hinders their ability to plan in ways that reduce their
vulnerability to climate risk. Therefore, it is important to
make local farmers aware of the importance of the radio
for disseminating the predictions made by climate stations,
and the advice given by extension workers, as now they do
not use them. Studies in Burkina Faso also highlight the
fact that local farmers do not recognise the part that fore-
casts can play in their adaptation (Barbier et al., 2009).
For example, the radio could be used to advise farmers
when rains are approaching so that they can prepare their
fields, or whether a severe drought or flood is forecasted,
so that they can prepare themselves. The importance of
radio communication for the success of local farmers’
harvests has been highlighted by a number of studies,
especially in Mali (see Baudoin, 2012).
4.7. Differences related to gender and ethnicity
Gender
Gender was not found to have an effect on perception of cli-
matic changes, the effects of these climatic changes in
crops, cattle and fruiting trees, and the adaptive strategies
used. Mertz et al. (2009) also found agreement between
male and female respondents with regard to observed
changes in climate. However, differences in how men and
women detect changes in vegetation were reported from
rural communities in southern Niger (Wezel & Haigis,
2000).
Ethnicity
While observed changes in climate were mainly related to
latitude, with no differences related to ethnicity within
Climate and Development 125
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
one climatic zone, different ethnic groups reported different
effects of these climatic changes on crops, cattle and fruit
trees, and they also reported using different adaptive strat-
egies. Some differences in the observed effects on crops,
cattle, fruit trees and adaptive strategies seem to be
mainly related to different livelihood strategies (of
farmers/herders) while others could be related to food pre-
ferences, alternative livelihood options (e.g. plants com-
monly gathered from the wild), entrepreneurship, or the
availability of information (e.g. how to plant Eucalyptus
trees). For example, both the male and female Fulani
focus groups mentioned and emphasised that ‘cattle
produce less milk’, and this was seen as the most important
effect of the observed changes in climate (see Table 3). As
Fulani people are pastoralists and they rely on milk selling
as major income, this is very important for them.
5. Implications of the results and conclusions
Communities from different latitudes reported different cli-
matic changes. These results support the idea that differ-
ences between regions might exist (Elmqvist & Olsson,
2006; Goulden et al., 2009). Therefore, studies on local per-
ception of climatic changes should include several regions.
Assessing a number of villages within a single latitudinal
band could be used as a cross-validation method to
reinforce the validity of the climatic changes observed
within that zone.
The changes in climate observed by local communities
agree with available scientific reports. This supports the
notion that local perceptions of climatic changes can be
used to complement climatic studies based on meteorologi-
cal records, where climatic records are not available.
Some of the observed changes in climate mentioned in
this study had not been reported before for this latitude in
Western Africa. Although further research is needed to vali-
date local perceptions, more support for adaptation is also
required because increased temperatures and changing
rainfall patterns not only threaten agriculture in the Sahel
but also in the Sudanian zone.
This study also highlights the importance of rainfall
variability for local farmers and herders, and the urgent
need to better understand and predict these changes if adap-
tation is to be successful. Dry spells and late onset of the
rainy season (or early onset in southern Benin when the
soil is still flooded) might cause crop failure, which
would severely affect local communities’ livelihoods.
Furthermore, although different ethnic groups in one
zone reported similar climatic changes, they reported
different effects on crops, cattle and fruit trees and different
adaptive strategies. Therefore, by including several ethnic
groups, a study is more likely to encompass greater
number of observed changes in crops, cattle and fruit
trees as well as the adaptive strategies used by one ethnic
group that could be promoted in others. As the CBA
approach suggests, it is important to involve local commu-
nities if adaptation measures are to be successful (e.g. Patt
& Schro¨ ter, 2008).
Moreover, although gender was not found to have a sig-
nificant effect on perceptions of climatic change, effects on
crops, cattle, fruit trees or adaptive strategies, studies in this
area should still consider dividing focus groups along
gender lines in areas where socio-cultural rules may
affect how women express opinions.
Despite the amount and relevance of information gath-
ered through this country-level multi-ethnical assessment,
this study has a number of limitations. The focus groups
had few participants. If more people participated it is
likely that more adaptive strategies would have been ident-
ified. By doing a larger survey that takes in a greater
number of villages and/or ethnic groups, not only would
more adaptive strategies be identified, but it would also
enable a better understanding of why some adaptive strat-
egies are adopted in some areas but not in others. Similarly,
only two groups focused on herders. Although in this case
this was because there are few other ethnic groups that are
herders in Benin, further studies on semi-nomadic herders
would enable better recommendations for herders to be
made. In spite of these limitations, the findings of this
study could be used for policy development, for example,
to improve Benin’s National Adaptation Program of
Action (NAPA).
In Benin, the Ministry of Environment only involved
one community in the south when developing its NAPA
(Baudoin, 2012). Our study shows that (i) climatic differ-
ences are related to latitude; (ii) different effects have
been observed on crops, cattle and fruit trees in different
areas; and (iii) different adaptive strategies are used and
could be used in different areas. Therefore, it is preferable
that NAPAs not only consider different villages in different
climatic zones, but also the effects of ethnicity. The impli-
cations of our results for Benin’s NAPA are further dis-
cussed in Cuni Sanchez et al. (submitted).
This study shows that large variations can occur
between regions within one country in terms of climatic
changes observed, their effects and adaptive strategies
used. These variations are not only related to latitude and
geography, but also to livelihood strategy which is linked
to ethnicity. Conventional, small, area-focused studies do
not offer the required resolution to capture this complex
picture. Therefore, country-level multi-ethnic assessments
like this study are recommended not only for climate
change research but also for policy development.
Acknowledgements
This study was funded by BIARI-Brown University and Bank
Santander. The authors are grateful to all the participants in this
study for their time and interest. They are also grateful to the
village chiefs, extension workers and other collaborators who
126 A. Cuni Sanchez et al.
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
helped us get in touch with the participants. They also like to
thank Marie-Ange Baudoin, Miles Franklin and two anonymous
reviewers for the advice given.
References
Adger, W.N. (2003). Social aspects of adaptive capacity. In
J.B. Smith, R.J.T. Klein, & S. Huq (Eds.), Climate
change, adaptive capacity and development (pp. 2950).
London, UK: Imperial College Press.
Adomou, A.C. (2005). Vegetation patterns and environmental
gradients in Benin. Implication for biogeography and conser-
vation (PhD thesis, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The
Netherlands).
Aggarwal, P.K., & Mall, R.K. (2002). Climate change and rice
yields in diverse agro-environments of India. II. Effect of
uncertainties in scenarios and crop models on impact assess-
ment. Climate Change,52, 331343.
Ago, E. (2005). Analyse des risques d’inondation en aval du
barrage hydroe
´lectrique du Nangbeto au Togo et au Be
´nin,
Me
´moire de fin d’e
´tude, Faculte
´s universitaires des sciences
agronomiques, Gemboux, Belgique.
Ahomadegbe, M., Ozer, P., & Dogot, T. (2010). Etude des strat-
e
´gies endoge
`nes d’adaptation des communaute
´s du plateau
d’Abomey face aux risques climatiques. Benin: GEO-ECO-
TROP.
Ajibade, L.T., & Shokemi, O.O. (2003). Indigenous approach to
weather forecasting in ASA L.G.A., Kwara State, Nigeria.
Indilinga. African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge
Systems,2, 3744.
van den Akker, E. (2000). Major crops and their regional distri-
bution in Ben. In L. Herrmann, K. Vennemnn, K. Stahr, &
M. von Oppen (Eds.), Atlas of natural and agronomic
resources of Niger and Benin. Germany: University of
Hohenheim. Retrieved from https://www.uni-hohenheim.
de/~atlas308/startpages/page2/english/content/title_en.htm
Assogbadjo, A.E., Kakai, R.G., Chadare, F.J., Kyndt, T., Sinsin,
B., Gheysen, G., & Van Damme, P. (2008). Folk classifi-
cation, perception, and preferences of baobab products in
West Africa: consequences for species conservation and
improvement. Economic Botany,62(1), 74– 84.
Ayanwuyi, E., Kuponiyi, F.A., Ogunlade, I., & Oyetoro, J.O.
(2010). Farmers perception of impact of climate changes on
food crop production in Ogbomosho agricultural zone of
Oyo State, Nigeria. Global Journal of Human Social
Science,10(7), 3339.
Bange
´as, R. (2003). La de
´mocratie a
`pas de came
´le
´on, Transition
et imaginaires politiques au Be
´nin. Karthala Editions, Paris,
France.
Barbier, B., Yacouba, H., Karambiri, H., Zorome
´, M., & Some
´,B.
(2009). Human vulnerability to climate variability in the
Sahel: farmers’ adaptation strategies in northern Burkina
Faso. Environmental Management,43, 790– 803.
doi:10.1007/s00267-008-9237-9
Baudoin, M.-A. (2012). L’adaptation aux changements climatiques
des communaute
´s rurales africaines: le cas de populations agri-
coles au Sud du Be
´nin (PhD thesis, CEDD/ULB, Bruxelles,
Belgium).
Boffa, J.M. (1999). Agroforestry Parklands in sub-Saharan
Africa. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization,
FAO Conservation Guide 34.
Boko, M., Niang, I., Nyong, A., Vogel, C., Githeko, A., Medany,
M., & Yanda, P. (2007). Africa. In M.L. Parry, O.F.
Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden, & C.E.
Hanson (Eds.), Change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and
vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the
fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on
climate change (pp. 717743). Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in
psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology,3, 77– 101.
Bryan, E., Deressa, T.T., Gbetibouo, G.A., & Ringler, C. (2009).
Adaptation to climate change in Ethiopia and South Africa:
Options and constraints. Environmental Science and Policy,
12, 413426. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2008.11.002
Christensen, J.H., Hewitson, B., Busuioc, A., Chen, A., Gao, X.,
Held, I., & Whetton, P. (2007). Regional climate projections.
In S. Solomon, D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis,
K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor, & H.L. Miller (Eds.), Climate
change 2007: The physical science basis Contribution of
working group I to the fourth assessment report of the inter-
governmental panel on climate change (pp. 847 940).
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Cuni Sanchez, A., Baudoin, M.-A., & Fandohan, B. (2012)
Climate change adaptation in Benin: from local farmers to
the State. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Cuni Sanchez, A., Osborne, P., & Haq, N. (2011). Predicting the
impact of climate change on the African baobab (Adansonia
digitata L.) a key species in dryland Africa. African
Journal of Ecology,49, 234– 245. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-
2028.2011.01257.x
Davies, S. (1996). Adaptable livelihoods: Coping with food
insecurity in the Malian Sahel. Basingstoke, UK:
Macmillan/St Martin’s.
Elmqvist, B., & Olsson, L. (2006). Livelihood diversification:
continuity and change in the Sahel. GeoJournal,67,
167180.
Ernest, A., Camberlin, P., & Perard, J. (2008). Instabilite
´spatio-
temporelle des re
´gimes pluviome
´triques dans le bassin
versant du Mono-Couffo (Afrique de l’Ouest) de 1961 a
`
2000. CRC- Universite
´de Bourgogne, France.
Fandohan, B., Assogbadjo, A.E., Gle
`le
`Kakaı¨, R., Kyndt, T., De
Caluwe
´, E., Codjia, J.T.C., & Sinsin, B. (2010). Women’s
traditional knowledge, use value and the contribution of
tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) to rural households’ cash
income in Benin. Economic Botany,64(3), 248– 259.
doi:10.1007/s12231-010-9123-2
Fandohan, B., Assogbadjo, A.E., Gle
`le
`Kakaı¨, R., & Sinsin, B.
(2011). Geographical distribution, tree density and fruit pro-
duction of Tamarindus indica (Fabaceae) across three eco-
logical regions in Benin. Fruits,66, 6578.
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization). (2008). The state of
food security in the world. Rome, Italy: Food and
Agriculture Organization.
Floquet, A., & van den Akker, E. (2000). Ethnic groups and settle-
ment patterns in Ben. In F. Graef, P. Lawrence, & M. von
Oppen (Eds.), Adapted farming in West Africa: Issues, poten-
tials and perspectives (pp. 255258). Stuttgart, Germany:
Ulrich E. Grauer.
Goulden, M., Naess, L.O., Vincent, K., & Adger, W.N. (2009).
Accessing diversification, networks and traditional resource
management as adaptations to climate extremes. In W.N.
Adger, I. Lorenzoni, & K. O’Brien (Eds.), Adapting to
climate change. Thresholds, values, governance
(pp. 448464). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Hountondji, P., Amin, S., Dossou-Houessou, A., Mongbo, R.,
Houedete, T., Igue, J., Gnidehou, J. (2000). Economie et
socie
´te
´:LeBe
´nin, d’hier a
`demain. L’Harmattan, Paris,
France.
Climate and Development 127
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
Huq, S., & Reid, H. (2007). Community-based adaptation: a vital
approach to the threat climate change poses to the poor.
London, UK: International Institute for Environment and
Development.
Huq, S., Reid, H., & Murray, L. (2006). Climate change and
development links. Gatekeeper Series 123. London, UK:
International Institute for Environment and Development.
IPCC. (2007). Climate change 2007: The IPCC fourth assessment
report, IPCC. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from http://
www.ipcc.ch/
Jones, P.G., & Thornton, P.K. (2003). The potential impacts of
climate change on maize production in Africa and Latin
America in 2055. Global Environmental Change,13, 51– 59.
Kandji, S.T., Verchot, L., & Mackensen, J. (2006). Climate
change and variability in Southern Africa: Impacts and adap-
tation in the agricultural sector. Nairobi, Kenya: ICRAF/
UNEP.
Maddison, D.J. (2007). The perception of and adaptation to
climate change in Africa (World Bank Policy Research
Working Paper No. 4308). Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/
abstract=1005547
Mary, A.L., & Majule, A.E. (2009). Impacts of climate change,
variability and adaptation strategies on agriculture in semi
arid areas of Tanzania: The case of Manyoni District in
Singida Region, Tanzania. African Journal of
Environmental Science and Technology,3(8), 206– 218.
Retrieved from http://www.academicjournals.org/AJEST
McCarthy, J., Canziani, O.F., Leary, N.A., Dokken, D.J., & White,
K.S. (2001). Climate change 2001: Impacts, adaptation, vul-
nerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third
Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
Press.
Mertz, O., Mbow, C., Reenberg, A., & Diouf, A. (2009). Farmers’
perceptions of climate change and adaptation strategies in
rural Sahel. Environmental Management,43, 804– 816.
doi:10.1007/s00267-008-9197-0
Meze-Hausken, E. (2004). Contrasting climate variability and
meteorological drought with perceived drought and climate
change in northern Ethiopia. Climate Research,27, 19– 31.
Ministe
`re de l’Environnement et de la Protection de la Nature
(MEPN). (2008). Programme d’action national d’adaptation
aux changements climatiques du Benin (PANA-BENIN).
Convention-Cadre des Nations Unies Sur les Changements
Climatiques.
Morton, J.F. (2007). The impact of climate change on smallholder
and subsistence agriculture. PNAS,104(59), 1968019685.
Ole, M., Cheikh, M., Anette, R., & Awa, D. (2009). Farmers per-
ceptions of climate change and agricultural strategies in rural
Sahel. Journal of Environmental Management,4(3),
804816.
Patt, A.G., & Schro¨ter, D. (2008). Perceptions of climate risk in
Mozambique: Implications for the success of adaptation
strategies. Global Environmental Change,18, 458– 467.
doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.04.002
Pouliotte, J., Smit, B., & Westerhoff, L. (2009). Adaptation and
development: Livelihoods and climate change in
Subarnabad, Bangladesh. Climate and development,1,
3146. doi:10.3763/cdev.2009.0001
Teklehaimanot, Z. (2004). Exploiting the potential of indigenous
agroforestry trees: Parkia biglobosa and Vitellaria paradoxa
in sub-Saharan Africa. Agroforestry Systems,61– 62,
207220.
Wernar, M., Diarra, L., Hu
¨lsebusch, C., & Kaufmann, B. (2010).
Securing food security by adapting millet growing to climate
variability: decision-making rules of Fulani agropastoralists
in Mopti region (Mali). Tropentag World food system: a
contribution form Europe. 13 15 September, Zurich,
Switzerland.
West, C.T., Roncoli, C., & Ouattara, F. (2008). Local perceptions
and regional climate trends on the central plateau of Burkina
Faso. Land Degradation and Development,19, 289304.
doi:10.1002/ldr.842
Wezel, A., Bohlinger, B., & Bo¨ cker, R. (2000). Vegetation zones
in Niger and Benin present and past zonation. In L.
Herrmann, K. Vennemnn, K. Stahr, & M. von Oppen
(Eds.), Atlas of natural and agronomic resources of Niger
and Benin. Germany: University of Hohenheim. Retrieved
from https://www.uni-hohenheim.de/~atlas308/startpages/
page2/english/content/title_en.htm
Wezel, A., & Haigis, J. (2000). Farmers’ perception of vegetation
changes in semi-arid Nı
´ger. Land degradation and
Development,11, 523 534.
White, F. (1983). The vegetation of Africa, a descriptive memoir
to accompany the UNESCO/AETFAT/UNSO vegetation map
of Africa. UNESCO. Natural Resources Research,20,
1356.
Wickens, G.E., & Lowe, P. (2008). The Baobabs, Pachycauls of
Africa, Madagascar and Australia. Dordrecht, The
Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers Group.
128 A. Cuni Sanchez et al.
Downloaded by [Joseph Rowntree Foundation], [Aida Cuni Sanchez] at 08:11 19 November 2012
... Increase in climate-related extreme weather events, such as floods, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, poor air quality and salinity of water, were reported by 20 articles in relation to women's health (Abdullah et al., 2019;Alhassan et al., 2019;Amoroso, 2018;Asamoah et al., 2018;Beaumier & Ford, 2010;Bunce et al., 2016;Cil & Cameron, 2017;Denton, 2002;Drolet, 2012;Khan et al., 2011;Leipert & Reutter, 2005;MacVicar et al., 2017;Marí-Dell'Olmo et al., 2019;Mason & Agan, 2015;McCall et al., 2019;Poudel et al., 2020;Sanchez et al., 2012;Scheelbeek et al., 2016;Singh et al., 2018;Tirado et al., 2013;Zhang et al., 2018). Floods, hurricanes, heat waves and droughts were found to impact the agricultural industry where women worked as primary labourers, retrieved food for daily consumption and relied upon heavily for household incomes (Alhassan et al., 2019;Denton, 2002;Drolet, 2012;Poudel et al., 2020). ...
... The rise in sea-level due to climate change has also increased salinity of water in surrounding sources as rising sea water push saltwater farther upstream, whereby some communities collected salinated water and have been found to cause more maternal health problems (Khan et al., 2011;Scheelbeek et al., 2016). Only one identified study reported that there was no gender difference found in terms of perceptions of climate change (Sanchez et al., 2012). However, the result should be interpreted cautiously because the study did not consider social, cultural and religion factors that could affect how women express opinions. ...
... Of the studies conducted in LMICs, it has been well established that climate change has influenced natural disasters and weather extremes that directly and indirectly affect women's health (Abdullah et al., 2019;Alhassan et al., 2019;Asamoah et al., 2018;Beaumier & Ford, 2010;Bunce et al., 2016;Cil & Cameron, 2017;Denton, 2002;Drolet, 2012;Khan et al., 2011;Leipert & Reutter, 2005;MacVicar et al., 2017;Marí-Dell'Olmo et al., 2019;Mason & Agan, 2015;McCall et al., 2019;Poudel et al., 2020;Sanchez et al., 2012;Scheelbeek et al., 2016;Singh et al., 2018;Tirado et al., 2013;Zhang et al., 2018). Directly, women are more negatively affected by droughts and heat waves due to their roles in society and nutritional and physiological requirements during periods of menstruation and pregnancy (Beaumier & Ford, 2010;Denton, 2002;Koehler, 2016;Tirado et al., 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is a significant global health threat that is, underpinned by the existing issue of gender inequality. A scoping review was conducted to better understand the relationship between climate change and women's health. We found a notably higher proportion of existing studies focused on low‐ and middle‐income countries (LMICs). Most of the studies included were published after 2010, with predominantly qualitative study designs. Four key themes were identified, including women's exposure to climate change risks, the impacts on women's health, factors contributing to the vulnerability, and responding strategies in addressing climate change. The scoping review indicates that women's health is at higher risks due to the vulnerability to climate change, especially in LMICs. Meanwhile, it is beneficial to have insights from women in terms of adaptation and mitigation strategies to build stronger resilience. Mixed methods are strongly recommended to support evidence‐based policy making in responding to climate change.
... Out of the 18 AWS, only half are operational owing to maintenance and data inputting challenges emanating from budgetary constraints and limited skills and staff [8]. As part of the solutions towards addressing these challenges, a growing size of scholarship is now advocating for integrating perceptions from local people who, because of their climate-sensitive livelihoods, are believed to have a keen interest in observing environmental changes within their communities [4,5,[9][10][11][12][13][14], and in seeking solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss [9,11,13,14]. Thus, local-based observations of climate change made by communities experiencing climatic phenomena can strengthen knowledge of climate change and help to inform local-based solutions to the problem of climate change and biodiversity loss. ...
... Out of the 18 AWS, only half are operational owing to maintenance and data inputting challenges emanating from budgetary constraints and limited skills and staff [8]. As part of the solutions towards addressing these challenges, a growing size of scholarship is now advocating for integrating perceptions from local people who, because of their climate-sensitive livelihoods, are believed to have a keen interest in observing environmental changes within their communities [4,5,[9][10][11][12][13][14], and in seeking solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss [9,11,13,14]. Thus, local-based observations of climate change made by communities experiencing climatic phenomena can strengthen knowledge of climate change and help to inform local-based solutions to the problem of climate change and biodiversity loss. ...
Article
Full-text available
Existing evidence about climate change in Zimbabwe has tended to focus more on elements and events of the climate system, marginalizing changes in the hydrological and ecological system. To contribute to the improved understanding of climate change, this study captured the observations of climate change in Malipati, a remote agrarian dryland area in the Chiredzi District, Zimbabwe. The aim of the study was to gather detailed insights about perceived environmental changes using the evidence drawn from local and indigenous populations who have close interactions with their natural environment. A household questionnaire-based survey with randomly chosen farmers (n = 116) revealed that participants’ observations of changes in hydrological and ecological system were consistent with available evidence of increasing temperatures and little rainfall recorded in the district. Results also showed high sensitivity of the area to climate change that manifest in various indicators: hydrological changes in rivers, streams, swamps, and ground water; and ecological changes through the behaviour of trees, insects, birds, and wild animals. Sex and age of the participants did not influence the way they perceived most of these changes (p > 0.05). However, education and the period of stay in the area were related to the respondents’ perceived changes in river flows and siltation, and the conditions of swamps (p < 0.05). Our study also revealed deeper insights about the human-biodiversity interactions in the face of climate change in unique areas where communities live alongside wildlife. The evidence drawn from local and indigenous populations can be used to inform local-based solutions to the growing problems of climate change and biodiversity loss. Future studies would need to further examine such areas to understand the mitigation and adaptation practices that would promote the sustainable co-existence of humans and wildlife.
... One focus-group discussion was organized in each village the coldest) have increased, e.g., "it is not as cold as it used to be." The overall agreement between farmers and pastoralists supports the notion that groups having different livelihood strategies but living in the same area report similar changes in climate (e.g., Cuni-Sanchez et al. 2012, 2019a. The climatic changes reported in the study agree with farmers' perceptions elsewhere in the north-west region of Cameroon: increased temperatures during the dry season, a shorter rainy season, and increased variability in rainfall (late onset of the rainy season, extended dry spells/more floods) (Mbue et al. 2016;Nguh and Zeh 2016). ...
... In Benin, a decrease in honey abundance linked to climatic changes was reported by both beekeepers and hunters of wild honey (Paraiso et al. 2012). Several studies have highlighted that non-timber forest products (NTFPs) such as wild fruits, honey, or caterpillars can be used as sources of food when crops fail (e.g., Cuni-Sanchez et al. 2012;Bele et al. 2013;Balama et al. 2017). However, few studies have investigated changes in NTFPs abundance over time, related to climatic changes. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Local communities’ perceptions of climatic changes can be used to complement meteorological data-scarce areas and places where climate changes are spatially highly variable, such as mountain environments. Local perceptions can also help identify adaptation strategies which are acceptable within, and work for, local cultures. Focusing on two mountains in the Bamenda Highlands (Mts. Oku and Mbam), the study investigated how livelihood strategy (farming vs. pastoralism) affected the perception of climatic changes, their impacts on livelihoods, and how people had adapted to them. Focus-group discussions (FGDs, n = 20) with village elders were used. No differences were observed between farmers and pastoralists on the climatic changes reported, but important differences were observed in perceived impacts and adaptation strategies used. All respondents reported changes in the amount and distribution of rainfall, fog and temperatures. Meteorological data on rainfall and temperature agreed with local perceptions. Farmers and pastoralists used farming and non-farming activities as adaptive strategies. Fulani pastoralists had started farming, which was not reported in previous studies in Cameroon. However, pastoralists had fewer options, as they are landless and most NGOs have overlooked them. The study highlights the need to consider pastoralists in climate change adaptation in the region, and also the importance of investigating fog when studying mountain ecosystems.
... This development leads to an increase in flash floods in the region. Also, for southern Benin, including the Mono River Basin, trends of increasing flood frequency and extreme rainfall are observed (Sanchez et al., 2012;Baudoin, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
River floods are a common environmental hazard, often causing severe damages, loss of lives and livelihood impacts around the globe. The transboundary Lower Mono River Basin of Togo and Benin is no exception in this regard, as it is frequently affected by river flooding. To enable adequate decision-making in the context of flood risk management, it is crucial to understand the drivers of risk, their interconnections and how they co-produce flood risks as well as associated uncertainties. However, methodological advances to better account for these necessities in risk assessments, in data-scarce environments, are needed. Addressing the above, we developed an impact chain via desk study and expert consultation to reveal key drivers of flood risk for agricultural livelihoods and their interlinkages in the Lower Mono River Basin of Benin. Particularly, the dynamic formation of vulnerability and its interaction with hazard and exposure is highlighted. To further explore these interactions, an alpha-level Bayesian Network was created based on the impact chain and applied to an exemplary what-if scenario to simulate changes in risk if certain risk drivers change. Based on the above, this article critically evaluates the benefits and limitations of integrating the two methodological approaches to understand and simulate risk dynamics in data-scarce environments. The study finds that impact chains are a useful model approach to conceptualize interactions of risk drivers. Particularly in combination with a Bayesian Network approach, the method enables an improved understanding of how different risk drivers interact within the system and allows for dynamic simulations of what-if scenarios, for example, to support adaptation planning.
... Indigenous knowledge is increasingly recognized as an important component for effective climate change adaptation [20] that functions alongside scientific strategies for sustainable solutions to CC impact [21,22]. This is in view that most rural farmers tend to live in the same locality where they were born, which makes them a 'living' record of experienced changes in the local climate [23]. Understanding local peoples' perceptions of climate parameters and relating their perceptions to historical climate data is thus important for better planning of adaptation options to the community [22]. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents an overview of smallholder farmers' perceptions of climate variability and change in synchrony with historical climate trends in Machakos County, Kenya. Farmers' perceptions were obtained using focus group discussions and household interviews. Monthly rainfall and temperature (minimum and maximum) data for the period of 1983-2014 were obtained and used in the analysis. The interview data were analyzed using descriptive statistics while data from the focus group discussions were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The Mann-Kendall test and linear regression analysis were used to detect statistically significant climate trends. Meteorological data provided some evidence to support farmers' perceptions of changes in rainfall and temperature. The Mann-Kendall test revealed statistically significant rainfall and temperature trends. The linear regression analysis showed increasing trends for both rainfall and temperature. Most farmers (77.7%) perceived decreasing amounts of seasonal rainfall contrary to analyzed seasonal rainfall trends, which showed an increase in seasonal rainfall. The experienced changes and variations in rainfall and temperature expose the farming systems to climate change risks. To support smallholder farmers in managing the increasing climate change risks, there is a need to enhance their adaptive capacity through effective adaptation planning and implementation.
... An increase of temperature ranging from 3 to 6 °C as per its level at the late twentieth century is predicted (Niang et al. 2014). As a consequence, there would be decrease in crops, trees and livestock productivity, crop damage, increased pest attack, increased incidences of diseases, decreased fish capture, decreased production of rangeland, reduction in favorable production areas for many crops (Paeth et al. 2008;Cuni-Sanchez et al. 2012;Lam et al. 2012;Srivastava et al. 2012;Fadina and Barjolle 2018). Under the scenario of 2 °C increase in temperature, a decrease of 5.9% in maize yield, one of the main staple foods in West Africa, has been projected along with mild and severe crop failure while under a scenario of 4 °C, a drastic yield reduction of up to 37% is likely to be recorded with increased frequency of severe crop failures (Parkes et al. 2018). ...
Chapter
A paradigm shift in the way food is produced and distributed is indispensable. Agricultural production models must be rethought to feed the ever-growing population in the face of climate change. Increased attention has been devoted to developing alternative production models, economically viable, less fossil energy-dependent and with low net carbon emission, preserving the environment and establishing or maintaining social equity. Promotion of sustainable agricultural intensification has been heralded as a strategy to combat food insecurity and unsafety in the West African region. This is particularly important in the context of climate change and food insecurity. In this chapter, we portray the complex relationship between sustainable agriculture, food security and safety and climate change. We provide evidence on how sustainable agricultural intensification can ensure food security and safety and enable farmers to better cope with climate change effects in West Africa. We discuss the institutional environment for the promotion of sustainable agriculture. Finally, we present perspectives for increased adoption of sustainable agriculture in the region. Sustainable agriculture is very essential to fight against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty in West Africa.
... The community is capable of sharing and utilizing this knowledge to meet their livelihood and survival needs. There is evidence that indigenous climate knowledge is useful across the climate change spectrum, from climate impact assessment [1][2][3]11,13,[20][21][22][23][24] to adaptation [25][26][27][28][29][30] and mitigation [9,31]. Scholars advocating for climate change-IK integration argue that the understanding of climate change can be enhanced by harnessing the knowledge of indigenous people who have been religiously observing changes occurring in their environment. ...
Article
Full-text available
The link between nature and society is vital for climate change mitigation and sustainable natural recourse management. Based on a case study of the indigenous people of Mbire in Zimbabwe, we argue that perceptions of indigenous people about forestry resources provide useful pointers toward framing climate mitigation interventions. This interest was necessitated by the growing call to address the suppression of forest-rich indigenous communities in climate change science. Accordingly, the aim of the study was to understand how indigenous people can contribute to the abatement of climate change. The study engaged 32 purposively selected elderly participants in focus group discussions; these participants had long histories of staying in the villages studied and were figures whom the locals regarded as “experts” in giving credible inferences about their environment. The participants corroboratively perceived forests and trees as their own “relatives”, who should not be harmed because of the support they continue to generously give to the people. Their construct of climate change relates to the gradual but continuing trivialization of cultural beliefs and abandonment of traditional practices, which they believe offend the spirits who have powers to influence the climate system. Although their attribution view on climate change is in contrast with that of mainstream climate scientists, we argue that their profound acknowledgement of climatic change, coupled with their scientific understanding of the intrinsic relationship between people’s wellbeing and the environment, are key entry points to design sustainable climate mitigation programs at community scales. The sustainability of such programs should not ignore local belief systems and strategies that communities use in preserving their forests.
... These climate change effects impact all the key socioeconomic development sectors of the country, water, agriculture, energy, health, and the coastal ecosystem (Table 1). Many other studies (Awoye et al. 2012;Sanchez et al. 2012;Yegbemey et al. 2013;Baudoin et al. 2014;Yegbemey et al. 2014) explored the perception of climate change and it impacts mostly by smallholder farmers. These studies suggest that climate change is perceived through reductions of rainfall, increases of temperature and frequencies of extreme events, etc. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter gives a broad yet concise overview of climate change impacts and adaptation in selected sectors in Benin. First, the chapter documents climate change impacts, highlighting more or less studied sectors/areas, current adaptation efforts and required improvements. Second, the chapter presents the institutional framework of climate change policies, the roles of civil society and the provision and utilization of climate information services in combating climate change. A search and screening of scholarly articles, technical reports, and newspapers were conducted to identify and select relevant literature for the review. Findings suggest that climate change in Benin is characterized by increases in temperature, sea-level rise, and extreme events such as floods, droughts, and strong winds. The main sectors/areas where impacts are documented include water resources, agriculture, energy, health, and coastal ecosystems. Water resources and agriculture are the most studied sectors while health and energy have received limited attention so far. At both the institutional and civil society levels adaptation strategies are designed, implemented, and planned either based on indigenous initiatives or through bilateral and multilateral cooperations. These strategies have strengths and weaknesses. Awareness of the usefulness, availability and accessibility to climate information services is still limited. This review provides recommendations to support the current national effort in building a more resilient and climate-smart society.
Chapter
Full-text available
Bu çalışma iklim değişikliği ve ekolojik krizin kaynaklarını incelerken dine, kültüre, etnisiteye ve toplumsal cinsiyete nasıl yaklaşmak gerektiğini keşisimsellik ekseninde ortaya koymaktadır. Çalışma toplamda altı bölümden oluşmaktadır. İlk bölümde adaptasyon çerçevesi ortaya konulmaktadır. Bu yapılırken de bütüncül bir perspektif gözetilmiştir. İkinci bölümde adaptasyon için dinin nasıl işlevselleştirilebileceği tartışılmaktadır. Üçüncü bölümde iklim değişikliğine adaptasyon için kültürün nasıl okunması gerektiği ortaya konmaktadır. Dördüncü bölümde etnik farklılıkların adaptasyonu nasıl belirlediği sorusuna cevap aranmaktadır. Beşinci bölümde toplumsal cinsiyet eşitsizliğinin adaptasyonu nasıl zorlaştırdığı ve iklim krizine karşı kadınların nasıl dezavantajlı duruma sürüklediği ortaya konmaktadır. Son bölüm de ise araştırma sonuçları ifade edilerek yeni bir tartışma zemini inşa edilmektedir. Literatür değerlendirme ile dizayn edilen çalışmada eleştirel bir yöntem izlenmiştir. Literatür değerlendirme türleri içerisinde bağlam ve bütünleştirici değerlendirme tercih edilmiştir. Bağlam değerlendirmesi; belli bir çalışmanın daha büyük miktarda bir bilgiye bağlandığı bir değerlendirme türüyken, bütünleştirici değerlendirme bir konu ile ilgili mevcut bilgi durumunun sunulduğu, özetlendiği ve o konudaki uzlaşma ve uzlaşmazlıkların altının çizildiği değerlendirmelerdir (Neuman, 2017: 166). Bu çalışmada da iklim değişikliği ile ilgili yapılan çalışmalar daha büyük, bütüncül bakış, bir bilgiye bağlanmış ve bakışlar özetlenerek uzlaşmazlıklar ortaya konmuş ve uzlaşma zemini aranmıştır.
Article
Full-text available
Mountain environments experience more rapid changes in temperature than lower elevations. However, little is known about the climatic changes already observed in African mountains, or the adaptation strategies used by hunter-gatherer communities. Semi-structured interviews were administered to 100 Twa hunter-gatherers living around Mt Kahuzi in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). We also organized 10 focus-group discussions with Tembo farmers living in the same area and we gathered historical data from Kamembe meteorological station. Twa respondents perceived reduced rainfall and fog, and increased temperatures. They also reported several impacts including reduced crop yields and abundance of forest products (caterpillars, mushrooms, honey). Tembo perceptions of climatic changes and impacts agreed with the Twa. Meteorological data available shows reduced rainfall and increased temperatures – but there are no records on fog. Despite being aware of climatic changes and impacts, Twa are not using any adaptation strategy, while Tembo farmers are using some (as they own land for farming or animal rearing, and are more business minded). For the Twa, their socioeconomic condition create high sensitivity to climate change and constrain adaptive capacity. For the Twa, we recommend the use of ‘science with society’ (SWS) participatory approach.
Book
First and only fully comprehensive account of all eight species of Adansonia Contains much new information Highly interesting for scientists, academics and laypeople This is the only comprehensive account of all eight species in the genus Adansonia. It describes the historical background from the late Roman period to the present. It covers the extraordinary variety of economic uses of baobabs, famous trees, folk traditions and mythology, art associations, life cycle, natural history, cultivation, conservation, distribution and ecology, and phytogeography. There are also appendices on vernacular names, gazetteer, economics, nutrition and forest mensuration. This book fills a gap in the botanical literature. It deals with a genus that has fascinated and intrigued scientists and lay persons for centuries. It will appeal to scientists and academics as well as tropical horticulturalists, conservationists and general interest readers. It includes all the available scientific information about each of the eight species, and contains a good deal of original research on the history, ethnobotany and biology of the genus. There is even a chapter devoted to areas where further research is required. © 2008 Springer Science + Business Media, B.V. All rights reserved.
Chapter
This paper outlines the nature of the relationship between climate change risks and social and institutional constraints on adaptation. Although the capacity of individuals to adapt to climate change is a function of their access to resources, the adaptive capacity of societies depends on the ability to act collectively in the face of the threats posed by climate variability and change. Thus adaptive capacity, as an element of overall vulnerability of a society, can be illuminated through examining the institutions for resource management and their effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy. I argue that the social capital constitutes social aspects of adaptive capacity. Social capital is made up of the networks and relationships between individuals and social groups that facilitate economic well-being and security. Indeed I demonstrate that social capital is an important element for coping with climate variability and hazard in the present day. The paper concludes with challenges for research to bring social aspects such as legitimacy and equity to the heart of the analysis of adaptation.
Article
The study assessed farmer's perception of impact of climate change on food crop production in Ogbomoso Agricultural zone of Oyo State, Nigeria. It highlights the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers, farmer's perception on climate change, impact of climate change on crop production and adaptation strategies adopted to mitigate the effect of climate change. Data were collected by using structured interview schedule administered on 360 farmers randomly selected from the three agricultural extension blocks in the study area. Description and analysis of data were carried out using frequency counts, percentages means and tables, while multiple regression was used to test the hypothesis. About 72.0% of the respondents were male, and 95.8% were between 31 and above 51 years old. While 29.4% had no formal education,70.6% have various levels of formal education. About 90% of the farmers had many years of farming experience ranging from6years to 21years and above. Only 31.1% and 24.7% of the respondents indicated delayed rainfall and higher temperature respectively as their perception of climate change. About 12% indicated unusual heavy rainfall, 9.4% indicated undefined season, while 4.4% and 4.2% respectively indicated flood with serious consequences and later fruiting of tree crops respectively as their perception of climate change. About 80.3% of the respondents mentioned low yield of crops as the impact of climate change on crop production, stunted growth (37.2%), ease spread of pest and diseases attack on crops (31.1%). Even though only 68.3% indicated increased water conservation as adaptation strategies, 74.7% mentioned planting of different crops while 54.4% change row orientation with respect to slope, as the adaptation strategies to mitigate impact of climate changes. A significant relationship at 0.05 significant level with coefficient of (R 2 = 0.612) was found between perceived climate change and adaptation strategies. Therefore Arable food crop farmers are more knowledgeable of climate change and even its impacts on their livelihood that should be considered in policy formulation on adaptation of agricultural production systems to climate change.