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< prev - next > Environment and adaptation to climate change mainstreeming climate change adaptation in agricultural extranison (Printable PDF)
Small-holder farmers in Zimbabwe are increasingly under pressure. While they
have been dealing with the vagaries of the weather (Climate Variability) for
generations, changing their farming practices and adopting various coping
strategies as determined by the prevailing conditions, their previous experience
and their access to resources; they are finding it increasingly difficult to cope in
the face of rapid change and the occurrence of events that they have not
previously experienced. Their vulnerability is increasing in the face of greater
uncertainty and unpredictability. Farmers need help and support in order to deal
with increasingly uncertain weather patterns.
It is now considered “unequivocal” that the global climate is changing, primarily
as a result of global warming, with a number of “knock-on” effects such as rising
sea levels and more unpredictable weather events (IPCC 2007). At the same
time, it is important to distinguish between Climate Change and Climate
Variability (see definitions attached). Meteorological records show that while the
earth‟s temperature is increasing, the analysis of rainfall patterns for several
sites in Zimbabwe, and for many sites elsewhere in East and Southern Africa,
show no clear trends so far, but remain variable from season to season.
Many of the problems that farmers are experiencing are not the result of Climate
Change alone. Climate Change and Variability is not a stand-alone hazard but
rather a multiplier of risk, interacting with existing and future hazards to produce
unusual situations that might not have been previously experienced. For
example, increased rainfall intensity (a not uncommon event) may be said to
have caused increased soil erosion – the result of “Climate Change”! But an
increase in population, with more livestock, increased grazing pressure and the
cutting of trees for firewood resulting in more rapid run-off is most likely the
underlying cause. The weather is a contributing factor; not the cause.
Nonetheless, rising temperatures, variable rainfall and more severe floods and
droughts are already having drastic consequences for the livelihoods and food
security of resource poor people particularly small-holder farmers (TNA
Guidebook Series. “Technologies for Climate Change Adaptation Agriculture
Sector”. GEF and UNEP, 2011).
Long-term Climate Change is expected to lead to more frequent, more extreme
or more unpredictable occurrences of existing natural hazards (such as the
timing, frequency and distribution of rainfall, floods, droughts and cyclones). It
can also result in the emergence of new hazards which did not occur previously
in a particular location (such as new pests and diseases) due to changing
A Training Manual on Use of Climate Information and Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment for
Agricultural Extension Staff in Zimbabwe
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