Rural households, Agriculture, and Climate change – why and how farmers (do not) adapt in Ethiopia (RACE)


Start date: 1 June, 2023 End date: 31 March, 2028 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier Window 1) Project code: 23-01-KU Countries: Ethiopia Thematic areas: Agricultural production, Climate change, Natural resource management, Lead institution: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Partner institutions: Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia Policy Studies Institute (PSI), Ethiopia Project coordinator: Goytom Abraha Kahsay Total grant: 12,168,074 DKK

Project summary

Global warming has far-reaching consequences for humans, ecosystems, and economies, especially affecting rural households with limited ability to adapt in low and middle-income countries. In Africa, families reliant on rain-fed agriculture are particularly vulnerable to temperature increases, frequent extreme weather, and rapid desertification. This project uncovers why and how rural households in Ethiopia (do not) adapt to climate change and identify pathways that increase adaptation.

Available research tells us that most farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa do not adapt to climate change. This is so even though more than two-thirds perceive such changes and locally known adaptation options are available. The complex decision-making interactions among farmers, community and government agents for effective climate adaptation remain obscure. Our first goal is to provide rigorous evidence on why rural households (do not) implement existing adaption practices.

When rural households in Africa adapt – for instance, changing crop species – these changed practices do not necessarily reflect responses to climate change. A more rigorous understanding is needed – what is due to climate change and what is caused by other factors such as the construction of new roads? Our second goal is to disentangle the relative importance of adaptation drivers.

There is also a need to understand what interventions work and how more climate-smart agriculture can be promoted to the benefit of rural households. What incentives and institutional setups positively affect the rate of climate-smart adaptation? Our third goal is to generate evidence on the effectiveness of interventions aimed at increasing household adaption of climate-smart technologies.

Lastly, when we know what works, we need to understand how feasible solutions can be designed and up-scaled. How are policies produced, circulated, and applied in relation to climate change interventions? Our fourth goal is to develop and disseminate realistic and feasible guidelines on increasing climate change adaptation on the ground.

The project is a collaboration between Bahir Dar University (BDU), the Ethiopian Policy Studies Institute, and the University of Copenhagen. It will enhance climate change research capacity among partners, establish BDU as a regional key research actor in the field, and translate research findings into recommendations for changes, allowing up-scaling to national-level improved climate change interventions.

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