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Can climate information salvage livelihoods in arid and semiarid lands? An evaluation of access, use and impact in Namibia

Zachary M. Gitonga, Martine Visser () and Chalmers Mulwa

World Development Perspectives, 2020, vol. 20, issue C

Abstract: Climate forecasting is a crucial tool for managing risks in climate-sensitive economic sectors like agriculture. Although rainfed subsistence farming dominates livelihoods in Africa, information on access, integration in farm decisions and impact of improved seasonal climate forecasting remains scanty. This paper addresses this gap using representative data of 653 households across three regions in North-Central Namibia. The study employed propensity score matching, with a sensitivity analysis for hidden bias, to evaluate the impact of climate information on adaptive capacity and food security. Although half of the households received climate information, many rated it as insufficient for decision-making and relied on traditional knowledge. The main channels were the radio and farmer’s peers, but trust was low. Farmers were found to attach high importance to climate information in relation to decisions about sale of livestock and stocking livestock feed, restocking, storing food for consumption smoothing and in making crop choices. Households receiving climate information had more diversified diets, higher food expenditure and engaged in more adaptive strategies, but on a small scale. Effective response to climate information for risk mitigation will require enhanced community awareness of available adaptive choices, development of market value chains, institutional support like extension services, and improvement of rural road and communication infrastructure. Working with local leaders and integrating climate information into local knowledge systems can enhance access and utilization in farm decisions.

Keywords: Impact evaluation; Climate information; Namibia; Adaptive capacity; Food security; Dietary diversity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2020.100239

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