There is sufficient evidence to show that climatic conditions are changing all over the world. The agricultural sector, especially in developing countries, is one of the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change and variability. Within these countries, the arid and semi-arid areas are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and variability. Farmers in these regions have to cope and adapt to changes in climatic conditions so as to reduce losses. There are many response strategies to climate change and variability that farmers can use, but some strategies are adopted at a higher rate than others. This study was carried out in Narok East Sub-county, an area that represents one of the semi-arid regions in Kenya. The objective of the study was to find out the main changes in climatic patterns that the farmers of Narok East Sub- county have perceived, how they are responding to the threat of climate variability and the factors that influence their choice of response strategies. A cross-sectional research design was used for the study whereby a household survey was carried out to collect data, with a questionnaire being the main data collection tool. Multi-stage sampling technique was used with a total of 223 household heads being interviewed. Key informant interviews and one focus group discussion with 16 participants was also used to supplement data from the household survey. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise and analyse the data. Principal Component Analysis in conjunction with multivariate probit model was used to determine the factors that influence farmers’ choice of response strategies. Results showed that farmers had perceived changes in climatic patterns especially in regards to increase in temperatures and reduction in rainfall. The results also showed that farmers had taken up various crop production strategies, with early planting, use of organic and inorganic fertilizers, terracing and planting short season crops being the most preferred. Among the livestock production strategies identified, herd reduction, transhumance, fencing farms and buying new breeds of animals were the most preferred response strategies. The Principal Component Analysis grouped the response strategies into four components, both for the crop production and livestock production strategies. Results of the multivariate probit analysis show that household head characteristics, household size, noticing changes in mean annual rainfall and onset of rains, receiving weather information and the land tenure system were all significant factors that influence choice of response strategy either positively or negatively. This study therefore recommends for more awareness creation and training of farmers of Narok East on how to identify and deal with changing climatic conditions.

Background information
Climate change is considered one of the most serious threats to sustainable development in the world (Kalungu, Filho, and Harris, 2013). Although climate change is a normal phenomenon which has been happening naturally in the past, it is now happening at a faster rate, with research showing that anthropogenic activities are responsible for the increased rate. For example, the current rate of atmospheric temperature increase is the highest seen in the last 800000 years (Dinse, 2010). Burning of fossil fuels, cement production and deforestation are the anthropogenic activities that contribute the most to climate change and variability (Almassy, 2014). Climate variability can be explained as the way climate fluctuates yearly above or below a long-term average value of a variable such as temperature or rainfall (Dinse, 2010).

Recent studies have shown that global climatic patterns have been changing, for example, the land and ocean surface temperatures have risen by 0.65 to 1.06 °C between 1880 and 2012, the number of warm days and nights has increased, the average Artic ice volume has decreased and sea level has risen (Stocker et al., 2013). Extreme weather events such as droughts, storms and floods have also been on the increase (UNDP, 2015). Such changes have led to some observed impacts such as changes in snow, ice, frozen ground, terrestrial and marine ecosystems and ocean acidification (UNFCCC, 2014). Of all the economic sectors that support livelihoods, agriculture is probably the one that is most dependent on climate (Antle, 2008).

Depending on the region and type of agriculture, climate change is expected to lead to changes in crop and livestock productivity (Antle, 2008). A warmer climate will increase food insecurity especially in Africa (Ngaira, 2007). A temperature increase of 1-3° C will cause a decrease in major crop yields in developing countries that are not properly equipped to adapt (Rosegrant et al., 2008). Climate change and variability is also increasing water scarcity, pollution and soil degradation (OECD, 2015). As the global surface temperature rises, agriculture will be more productive near the poles, deserts and grasslands are expected to increase, marginal agriculture will be threatened, there will be coastal flooding and ocean ecology will be altered (Ngaira, 2007). The change in rainfall patterns and mean temperature will also lead to increased incidents of pests and diseases (Rosegrant et al., 2008). Droughts and storms are also expected to become more frequent and therefore contribute to lower productivity which may lead to conflicts over scarce resources (Kabubo-mariara and Kabara, 2015). Furthermore, extreme weather events have already caused significant increases in food prices all over the world, causing both political and economic crises (Mazhirov, 2011).

The Government of Kenya acknowledges that climate change and variability and its effects are a common concern of all humankind (GoK, 2010). Climate change and variability in regards to agriculture is a major concern in Kenya since agriculture is the biggest employer (about 82% of the population), the largest contributor to the GDP (30%) and the largest export sector with 70% of export earnings (Kabubo-Mariara and Karanja, 2006). Despite this great importance of agriculture, only 12% of the country is considered high potential, with the remaining 80% being considered as arid and semi-arid (Ojwang, Agatsiva, and Situma, 2010). This therefore means that the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya are not only under pressure from climate change and variability, but also from increased conversion to agricultural farms (Ojwang et al., 2010).

Some of the extreme climatic events that have been experienced in Kenya such as the severe drought in January 1997, El Niño rains of 1997/98, severe drought in the year 2000 and the devastating floods in the year 2004 can be attributed to climate change and variability (Kandji and Verchot, 2006). The Government of Kenya (2010), noted that climate change and variability has already caused some adverse impacts including; increase in the extent of arid and semi-arid land, loss or decline of important and indigenous species, loss of rangelands, reduction in fresh water availability, loss of coastal land as a result of sea level rise, increase in food insecurity, increased prevalence of livestock and human diseases, increase in human wildlife conflicts, migrations and displacement, loss of fish biomass and hampered energy production. All over the country, droughts continue to interrupt rainfall patterns leading to harvest failures, deteriorating pastures, water scarcity and livestock loss (Kabubo-mariara and Kabara, 2015). Such impacts of climate change are expected to get worse this century (GoK, 2013).

Although many places in Kenya are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and variability, the arid and semi-arid areas including Narok County are the most vulnerable especially in relation to food and livelihood security (Kandji and Verchot, 2006). According to Ngaira (2007), Kenya’s ASALs have been experiencing droughts and unpredictable rainfall patterns since 1960. Kenya’s dry lands are experiencing higher frequency and severity of droughts and floods, which are expected to increase in the coming years (Ojwang et al., 2010). In the period between 1950 and 2007, Narok County experienced an overall decline in rainfall amounts and a steady increase in mean temperature (Ojwang et al., 2010). The region has also experienced an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, especially droughts, and a delayed onset of rains, the rivers and streams in the County have also seen receding water levels (Mulenkei, 2015).

A farmer’s ability to perceive such changes in climatic patterns has been linked to their ability to adapt (Komba and Muchapondwa, 2012). Perceiving climate change and variability is, however, also influenced by certain socio-economic factors (Debela, Mohammed, Bridle, Corkrey, and Mcneil, 2015; Mamba, 2016). According to Mamba (2016), a more educated was farmer, an older farmer, a female farmer and a farmer with access to weather data and extension services was found to be more likely to perceive climate change and variability more accurately than a less educated farmer, a younger farmer, a male farmer and a farmer without access to weather data and extension services respectively.

When farmers and pastoralists in the affected areas notice changes in climatic patterns, they normally respond by adopting various coping mechanisms (Rakgase and Norris, 2014). These adaption mechanisms do not aim to prevent all adverse impacts of climate variability or clean- up after a disaster, but to create long-term resilience within concerned communities (Obayelu, Adepoju, and Idowu, 2014). In Africa and other developing countries, those farmers take up both traditional and modern adaptation strategies (Nti, 2012). Most communities in African countries affected normally resort to irrigation, crop diversification, agroforestry practices and changing planting dates (Komba and Muchapondwa, 2012). In Narok, 91 % of farmers reported to having changed their farming practices so as to adapt to climate change (Mulenkei, 2015).

Many factors have been hypothesized as influencing farmers’ choice of response strategies to changing climate. These mostly include; socio-economic factors of entire communities or individual households, or institutional factors at play in the regions affected by climate variability or change. The most common factors identified as influencing farmers’ choice of climate change and variability adaptation include; farmer’s age, education, gender, size of the household, annual family income, access to credit, access to extension services, farm size, access to information on climate change and observing climate variability (Komba and Muchapondwa, 2012; Nti, 2012; Obayelu et al., 2014; Uddin, Bokelmann, and Entsminger, 2014) The significant factors change from region to region.

With the knowledge that Narok East Sub-county is already experiencing climate change and variability and its impacts, this study aimed at investigating certain critical questions in order to improve adaptation to climate variability. This was done in order to fill the critical knowledge gaps in regards to those questions and also to help the farmers, the local government and local NGOs come up with a better climate change and variability adaptation strategy. An improved strategy would contribute to better food security and improved livelihoods.

Statement of the problem
The phenomenon of climate change and variability has been receiving a lot of global attention. This is because it has wide implications on natural biodiversity and also the socio-economic aspects of human existence. In most developing countries, the agricultural sector and crop farming is largely rain-fed and decline or variability in rainfall has implications on productivity. Kenya, as one of the developing countries in question, usually experience losses of both crops and livestock due to unreliable rainfall patterns and the occurrence of extreme weather events. Since agriculture is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy, failure to adapt effectively to climate change and variability will lead to increased food insecurity, rising food prices and massive unemployment. Narok East, being a semi-arid region, is more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and variability. The ever increasing population and conversion of land for agricultural purposes only serves to make the region more vulnerable. The national and county governments have put in place measures to help farmers and pastoralists adapt to changing climate. The farmers and pastoralists in Narok East Sub-county have also tried to adapt to the changing climatic conditions, using both traditional and modern adaptation strategies. Despite these efforts, the farmers still experience low productivity and heavy losses due to unreliable rainfall and extreme weather events such as drought. While it is clear that some adaptation strategies are more effective than others, the farmers and pastoralists of Narok East have not taken them up at the same rate. Currently, it is not well understood why farmers choose certain response strategies over others, a factor that may be influencing their ability to cope effectively. This study sought to investigate which factors influence farmers’ choice of response mechanisms to climate variability in Narok East Sub-county.

Broad objective:
The broad objective of the study is to contribute towards achievement of food security in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands through improved community based adaptation strategies to climate variability.

Specific objectives
i. To document the changes in climatic patterns as perceived by farmers in Narok East Sub-County in the years between 1996 and 2016

ii. To assess the adaptation and coping strategies to climate variability by farmers in Narok East Sub-county

iii. To determine the factors that influence adaptation and coping strategies to climate variability for farmers in Narok East Sub-county

Research questions
i. What are the main changes in climatic patterns that farmers in Narok East Sub-county have perceived between the year 1996 and 2016?

ii. What are the adaptation and coping strategies to climate variability adopted by the farmers in Narok East Sub-county?

iii. Which factors influence farmers’ choice of response strategies to climate variability in Narok East Sub-county?

Justification of the study
There is a general agreement that the whole world needs to find a way to mitigate climate change and variability and also deal with its impacts. This agreement is well summarized in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 13 which aims to ‘take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (UNDP, 2015). If climate change is left unmitigated, it can make it difficult to achieve the other SDGs especially the ones that seek to end hunger, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture (Reeves and Huq, 2015). Kenya on her part also recognizes the importance of integrating climate change information in its development policies such as the Vision 2030 and also in its National Climate Change Response Strategy (GoK, 2010).

Research in climate change and variability, its impacts and how Kenyan communities are adapting to it is therefore paramount if the country is to achieve its development goals. Narok East Sub-county as one of the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya is vulnerable to the impacts and effects of climate change and variability. Research has shown that climatic patterns in the region are already changing (Ojwang et al., 2010). Erratic rainfall patterns and extreme weather events usually contribute to losses for both crops and livestock. Understanding the current situation will facilitate better coping and adaptation to changing climate. Farmers in this Sub- county have to deal with the impacts of climate change and variability, in order to safeguard their agricultural livelihoods.

There is limited information on how farmers are responding to climate variability. This study is designed to study the perception of farmers to climate variability and how they respond to the phenomenon. Information gathered during this study will be shared with the farmers and also used to recommend better and more effective ways of dealing with the impacts of climate variability on their livelihoods. Both the county government and the national government through the ministry of agriculture may use the information generated by this study to help improve the existing policies on climate change and agriculture. NGOs operating in Narok County may also use the information to advise the farmers on suitable coping and adaptation strategies to climate variability.

Scope and limitations of the study
The study was conducted within Narok East Sub-county, which was used as a representative of the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya and also because the region is already experiencing the impacts of climate change and variability. Only farmers with at least 20 years of experience farming or keeping livestock in the Sub-county were interviewed. This is because they were in a better position to have noticed climate variability and extreme weather events over a period of time. In terms of the independent variables, this study limited its investigation to household characteristics, land tenure and access to weather information and did not include institutional factors, distance to a market and government policies as outlined in other similar studies.

Assumptions of the study
Considering that a questionnaire was the main data collection tool, the assumption was that the respondents would give truthful and accurate information to all the questions. The study also assumed that climate change and variability has been significant enough for the farmers in Narok East sub-county to notice and respond to questions appropriately. Further, the study assumed that farmers would be able to recall significant details about climate variability over a period of 20 years. The last assumption was that the household head would be available for the survey when their household was visited.

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