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Drought perception and field-level adaptation strategies of farming households in drought-prone areas of Afghanistan

  • Qurban Aliyar
  • Farhad Zulfiqar
  • Avishek Datta
  • John K. M. Kuwornu
  • Sangam Shrestha
  • Summary

Droughts affect more people than any other natural hazard and Afghanistan is the hotbed of droughts with millions of lives affected annually. Therefore, this research was carried out to assess farmers' perceptions of climate change and droughts, drought severity, impact of droughts on crop productivity, and farmers' adaptation strategies to buffer the effect of drought using primary data collected through farmer survey, and climate change analysis using the secondary data. Finally, farmers' perceptions of climate and drought were compared with meteorological data using data from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data were gathered using a pretested and structured questionnaire from 120 sampled farmers in the rainfed and irrigated areas of Bamyan Province of Afghanistan. The secondary data regarding climatic variables were used for climate change analysis. The study findings revealed farmers' perceptions of an increase in average temperature and a decline in average precipitation during 1998-2017, which was corroborated by climate change analysis using actual meteorological data. The perceptual drought severity also matched closely with climate data, though the rainfed area experienced a significantly higher drought frequency and severity compared with the irrigated area. The findings disclosed a significantly lower drought-induced crop productivity in both areas, though the decline was substantially higher in the rainfed area. The drought adaptation strategies included various on-farm and off-farm strategies, which differed significantly in the rainfed and irrigated areas. The on-farm adaptations encompassed early sowing, crop diversification, sowing of drought-tolerant varieties, and leaving fallow land. The off-farm strategies included handicrafts, wage labor, migration, and income diversification. The differences found in adaptation strategies across physical environments highlight the necessity of localized adaption strategies. This study provides evidence-based policy inputs for drought mitigation management in Afghanistan.

  • Published in:
    International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 72
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