Original Research

Vulnerability, impact and adaptation strategies of female farmers to climate variability

Siphosethu Dibakoane, Pakama Siyongwana, Ayanda N. Shabalala
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 14, No 1 | a1302 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v14i1.1302 | © 2022 Siphosethu Dibakoane, Pakama Siyongwana, Ayanda N. Shabalala | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 February 2022 | Published: 15 September 2022

About the author(s)

Siphosethu Dibakoane, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, University of Mpumalanga, Mbombela, South Africa
Pakama Siyongwana, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, University of Mpumalanga, Mbombela, South Africa
Ayanda N. Shabalala, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, University of Mpumalanga, Mbombela, South Africa


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Abstract

In Africa, agriculture, particularly crop production, is a vital livelihood practice for women, who provide a larger proportion of the labour force. However, the high reliance on rain-fed agriculture, coupled with other socio-economic constraints, exposes female farmers to climatic risks. This paper investigates the participation of women in crop production, key challenges and their coping strategies for climatic disturbances. Drawing on the experiences of female farmers of Thaba Chweu Local Municipality (TCLM) in Mpumalanga, South Africa, the study blended qualitative and quantitative approaches to gather data on their vulnerability and adaptation strategies to climatic shocks. A questionnaire administered through face-to-face interaction and online surveys was the main instrument used to obtain data. This study revealed diverse challenges faced by female farmers in the form of high susceptibility to climatic disruptions, limited funding and gaps in accessing agricultural inputs and equipment (machinery, seeds and fertilisers) and pests. The effects of climate variability manifest in low crop outputs and inferior yields, food insecurity and loss of revenue. The most preferred coping strategies are changing planting and harvesting dates, followed by eating less food, looking for jobs and crop rotation. Although the main source of support comes from both family and government, the majority of the female farmers do not use modern scientific-based and input-intensive agricultural coping strategies such as the use of irrigation systems because of lack of livelihood assets and lower literacy levels.


Keywords

females; constraints; climate variability; adaptation strategies; agrarian-based livelihoods

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