Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 745–762 | Cite as

Small-holder farmers’ climate change adaptation practices in the Upper East Region of Ghana

  • Tyhra Carolyn KumasiEmail author
  • Philip Antwi-Agyei
  • Kwasi Obiri-Danso


The paper assessed the existing adaptation strategies implemented by farmers in the Upper East Region of Ghana to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and variability. The paper used data collected through a series of participatory methods including focus group discussions, questionnaire surveys and key informant interviews in 4 farming communities with different socioeconomic backgrounds in the Bongo and Talensi-Nabdam Districts of the Upper East Region. Results showed that farmers’ adaptation to climate change and variability may be categorized under agricultural, water management, communal pooling and livelihood diversification techniques. Specific livelihood diversification adaptation practices identified in the study communities include charcoal or fuel wood sales, temporal and permanent migration to urban areas in search of non-existing jobs. Communal pooling, involving joint ownership and sharing of wealth, labor or incomes across households, is not widely practiced and should be enhanced. The findings showed that male and female farmers may engage in different set of adaptation practices to cope with climate change. Further, the results showed that farmers, especially female farmers, were constrained by a lack of property rights of farmlands, lack of credit facilities and lack of access to irrigation facilities, inadequate climate change information and inadequate seeds for planting. The paper recommends that farmers should be encouraged to form farmer-based associations to network socially, access credit facilities, land, insurance products, extension services and training to empower communities and women. Fostering peer exchange of information between communities will ensure best practices, and lessons learnt are shared and scaled-up. This paper contributes to the literature on mechanisms employed by farmers in dryland farming systems to cope with climate change and variability.


Climate change Small-holder farmer Agricultural practices Gender Adaptation strategies Ghana 



The authors acknowledge the support and collaboration of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the District Assemblies and Traditional rulers in the communities from the Upper East Region. The contributions of field enumerators and focal persons, who were involved in data collection, are gratefully acknowledged. We are also grateful to the Center for International Governance Innovation African Initiative Grant Research for providing funding for this research.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Community Water and Sanitation AgencyAccraGhana
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science, College of ScienceKwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana
  3. 3.Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, College of ScienceKwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana

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