Agricultural adaptation and institutional responses to climate change vulnerability in Ethiopia.

Published online
22 Apr 2015
Content type

Woldeamlak Bewket & Radeny, M. & Mungai, C.
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Publication language
Ethiopia & Africa South of Sahara


Climate change is a major development challenge to Ethiopia. Climate change is expected to adversely affect all economic sectors, eco-regions, and social groups. Agriculture is one of the most vulnerable sectors as it is highly dependent on rainfall. This report synthesises four case studies focusing on the impacts, vulnerabilities and local adaptation practices in Ethiopia's agricultural sector, including policy and institutional responses. The case studies were carried out in nine districts, representing the major agro-ecological and farming systems. The case studies use qualitative data generated through rapid appraisal methods, complimented with a review of relevant literature. The results show that there are changes in local climatic conditions, manifested through several indicators. These include increased temperatures, changes in rainfall amounts and patterns, and increased incidence of drought and flood events. Drought was a major problem in almost all sites, while floods affected localized areas in some of the sites. Informants attributed climate change to poor management of natural resources (forests and grazing lands), with rapid population growth as a key driver. Various adverse effects of climate change on crop and livestock production, natural resources and livelihoods were reported. Communities used a wide range of coping and adaptive strategies that included adjustments in crop and livestock production, natural resources management, and diversification into new food and income sources. In terms of policies and institutional response, Ethiopia is arguably in a good state of preparedness to address climate change. Despite the communities' coping and adaptation strategies, the policies and institutions in place, agriculture and food security are increasingly being negatively affected by climate change. This implies local coping and adaptive capacities are being overwhelmed by climate change effects. There is, therefore, need for effective implementation of planned adaptation interventions as outlined in the national policy and strategy documents and to build resilience in agriculture, natural resources and food security sectors. Also, further research is needed to fill in crucial knowledge gaps, some of which are identified and discussed in this report.

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