Agricultural adaptation to intensifying El Niño and La Niña periods within North West, South Africa
Bredenkamp, Pieter Wernich
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Climate can be defined as the mean and variability of the relevant atmospheric parameters such as temperature, precipitation and wind over a long period of time. These parameters fluctuate over time, creating different seasonal variations. However, through climate change, these fluctuations are affected, creating extreme climate variabilities. These extreme climate conditions can be further exacerbated through the El Niño and La Niña phenomena, creating more extreme climatic conditions. This adverse change in temperature and precipitation have severe implication for the agricultural sector, as the variation in temperature and precipitation can have a severe impact on the ability to successfully produce agricultural products. This in turn has implications on the economic sector, as well as the health of the surrounding environment as farmers are needed to change their practices, which could be done in unsustainable ways. This study aimed to explore the drivers that could intensify the El Niño and La Niña events within the North West Province and the implications thereof on the environment as well as the agricultural sector. The framework of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction was incorporated into the analysis to better understand the impacts of the farmers on the environment and to gain perspective about their adaptation measures. Through the use of a mixed methodology and a semi-structured questionnaire, information was gathered by 15 participants regarding these perceptions and measures. Though the participation pool was small, saturation of information from the participants was reached and their answers were also in line with literature. The analysis showed that the farmers that participated in the study did have a rudimentary understanding of climate and the changes thereof, as well that basic reactive adaptation were incorporated into their respective farming practices. However, there was a lack of proactive measures being implemented by the participants, both in adaptation measures and future scenario planning regarding extreme, periodic, climatic variabilities. The main recommendations from this study include further studies in North West and the country on strengthening the ability to reduce climate impacts, specifically El Niño and La Niña phenomena, on agriculture. Further, the incorporation of the framework of Eco-DRR into the adaptation measures, which will have a positive impact on the equilibrium between the agricultural sector and the health of the environment. Lastly, education on these matters would have a beneficial impact on the ability of the farmers to more easily adapt to a changing climate, as well as being more capable of ensuring environmental sustainability through adaptive agricultural techniques. This education could be possibly provided through future workshops or educational programs.