Drought risk reduction in agriculture: a review of adaptive strategies in East Africa and the Indo-Gangetic Plain of South Asia.

Published online
23 Dec 2014
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Cenacchi, N.
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Africa South of Sahara & East Asia & South Asia


This report is a component of the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) - funded project "Impacts of Climate Extremes on Future Water and Food Security in South Asia and East Africa." The goal of the project was to characterize extreme drought events, to improve on a methodology to assess the probability of these events in the future under climate change, to illustrate their impacts, and to provide suggestions on coping strategies. The present report sets the stage for the overall project by undertaking a review of the causes of vulnerability to drought in East Africa and the western Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) of South Asia, and discussing the options to increase resilience to drought in the agricultural sector. Agriculture is a high-risk endeavor in both regions, due to a combination of recurrent droughts - which may intensify due to climate change - poor soil fertility, and a host of constraints faced by farmers, especially low access to input and output markets. These factors, combined with farmers' high aversion to risk, stifle investments in agriculture, resulting in continuous underachieving production, low income, and persisting poverty. Lack of investments leaves production prone to drought shocks and households highly susceptible to losing assets. Poverty is therefore both a determinant and a result of drought shocks. Tackling the vulnerability of farming communities is at the core of drought risk reduction and promises to reduce both poverty and food insecurity. Strategies for drought risk reduction need to encompass sustainable management of agroecological landscapes to boost agricultural production, as well as measures to improve access to food, to ensure people's health, and to lower the risk of investment in farming. Continuous financial support is needed for development work and for investments to cultivate social capital and the capacity for disaster risk reduction across farming communities.

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