Climate Change Perceptions and Adaptation Strategies by Forest Adjacent Communities in Kilombero District Tanzania

Chelestino Balama, Suzana Augustino, Siri Eriksen, Fortunatus B.S. Makonda


Climate change is a global challenge to both sustainable livelihoods and economic development. Tanzania has been affected by climate change due to primary dependence on rain-fed agriculture. Despite several studies being able to explore climate change farmers’ perceptions and adaptation in Tanzania, little attention has been to humid areas specifically forest adjacent communities. This study assessed the perceptions and adaptation strategies developed by forest adjacent communities against climate change effects in Kilombero District, Tanzania. Data collection involved use of household questionnaire, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and participant observations. Results showed that the majority of communities perceive the climate to have changed as evidenced by increase in temperature and unpredictable rainfall over the past decades. This was further evidenced by frequent occurrence of floods, increased dry spells during rainy season coupled with decreased water sources, emergence of new pests and diseases, and fluctuations in fruiting and flowering seasons for plant resources in the forests. The communities’ perceptions are in line with existing empirical climate data for Kilombero meteorological station where temperature and rainfall have indicated an increasing trend with fluctuations in some years. The perceived change in climate has impacted different sectors mostly agriculture as the main livelihood source. Local communities are responding through different coping and adaptation strategies, such as crop diversification, changing cropping calendar, adopting modern farming technologies, increasing reliance on Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs), animal rearing and petty trading. Household size, residence period, land ownership, and household income were the socio-economic factors that influenced coping and adaptation strategies positively and significantly. In conclusion, forest adjacent communities perceive the climate to have changed as evidenced by different climatic indicators. In actual fact the area seem to have experienced climate variability and communities have responded differently by developing both coping and adaptation strategies within the farming and non-farming context. The study recommends a need for provision of weather forecast to the area for preparedness. The need for daily recording of climatic events by meteorological stations in the study area and other places in Tanzania is crucial for future confirmation of climate change. The observed potential coping and adaptation strategies need to be prioritized, strengthened and developed to ensure livelihood sustainability in future.

Keywords: climate change perceptions; forest adjacent communities; coping and adaptation strategies, Tanzania


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ISSN (Paper)2224-3216 ISSN (Online)2225-0948

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