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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Afrique du Sud → 2022 → Improving resilience in rainfed and irrigated agriculture under future climate in the winter rainfall region of the Western Cape : lessons from the 2015-2018 drought

Stellenbosch University (2022)

Improving resilience in rainfed and irrigated agriculture under future climate in the winter rainfall region of the Western Cape : lessons from the 2015-2018 drought

Theron, Simone

Titre : Improving resilience in rainfed and irrigated agriculture under future climate in the winter rainfall region of the Western Cape : lessons from the 2015-2018 drought

Auteur : Theron, Simone

Université de soutenance : Stellenbosch University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhDAgric) 2022

Résumé partiel
Drought has been identified as a key vulnerability for agriculture under climate change - most notably in southern Africa. Recently, the Western Cape Province of South Africa experienced a multi-year severe drought from 2015-2018, which negatively impacted the rural and urban economy. Studies have shown that short-term emergency responses can guide long-term planning. Thus, lessons from the drought can inform responses to climate change and improve resilience in the agricultural sector. The overall aim of this study was to capture the lessons learned from the 2015-2018 Western Cape Drought and how these lessons can be used to build resilience to drought for crop production under climate change in the Western Cape. Through this aim the study intended to shed light on various aspects of climate change response, including adaptation, resilience, adaptive capacity, and barriers to adaptation. The study focused on commercial wheat and apple farmers to represent rainfed and irrigated agriculture, respectively. Four production regions in the Western Cape were studied : the Swartland, the Rûens, Ceres and Elgin-Grabouw-Vyeboom-Villiersdorp. The study used observed climate datasets and production data to understand the impacts of the drought. Drought indices were computed to assess the drought severity, as well as its spatio-temporal extent. The impacts of climate change on the production regions were gauged using a CMIP5 ensemble up to 2065. In-depth interviews with farmers and actors within the agricultural sector were conducted and supplemented with an online questionnaire which was analysed using RandomForests. The study also used the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, which allowed for the assessment of financial, human, and social capital, which was not captured in the climate analysis. It was found that the Western Cape experiences recurrent drought and that the 2015-2018 drought was the most severe in the past 30 years. This may be an early indication of the effects of climate change on the region. In response to the drought, most farmers acknowledged they had learnt several lessons and have since changed some of their farming practices. It was found that farmers who make use of weather forecasts were more likely to feel that their farm’s response to the drought was effective. It was also found that human and social capital were instrumental in reducing the impacts of the drought.

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