Adapting to climate change: reflections of peasant farmers in Mashonaland West Province of Zimbabwe
Mashizha, Tinashe M.
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Climate change is projected to have negative impacts on agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa and this is likely to continue for decades, unless adaptation measures are implemented. The changing climate is a global challenge to sustainable livelihoods and economic development. Peasant farmers in Zimbabwe depend entirely on rain-fed agriculture, a situation that makes agriculture and rural livelihoods vulnerable to climate change. This paper discusses the findings of the study carried out in the Zvimba District amongst peasant farmers on their knowledge of climate change impacts and adaptation strategies. Semi-structured interviews, observations and document analysis were used as methodologies for data collection for the study. Purposeful sampling technique was applied to 40 peasant farmers. Qualitative data from interviews and focus group discussion were analysed using context analysis. Households acknowledged that rainfall amount has decreased over the last 30 years. Such changes have reduced agricultural productivity, and in response, communities have developed multiple adaptation strategies such as harnessing social capital, crop and livelihood diversification, engaging in small businesses and water harvesting for livestock keeping. The study concludes that there is a need to recognise the validity of indigenous knowledge and an inventory should be created for future use. The paper notes that diversification of adaptive strategies is vital for sustainable livelihood in a changing climate.