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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Factors affecting smallholder adoption of adaptation and coping measures to deal with rainfall variability

Nyberg, Ylva; Wetterlind, Johanna; Jonsson, Mattias; Öborn, Ingrid


Rainfall variability is becoming more profound in East Africa. Smallholders relying on rainfed agriculture are particularly affected and need to adapt their farming systems accordingly. This study examined the measures small-scale farmers use to adapt to, or cope with rainfall variability and their rated perceived effectiveness. It also explored limitations to adoption of measures and sources of learning measures. Questionnaire-based interviews were held with 80 smallholder farmers, both female and male, living in Kisumu and Trans Nzoia counties in Kenya who had regular or sporadic access to advisory services (denoted trained and non-trained farmers). Trained farmers used more adaptation measures, especially of the measures perceived to be more effective, than non-trained farmers. Female farmers felt more limited by lack of knowledge than male farmers, while money, land and labour limited the smallholder farmers equally. Few measures were used to overcome limitations, but several limitations were covered within the advisory package used for trained farmers, and therefore large differences were seen not only in numbers of measures used, but also in the choice of measures and perceived effectiveness of use. Thus advisory services and policy interventions can play important roles in future efforts to improve adoption of measures.


adaptation measures; advisory service; coping; Kenya; vulnerability

Published in

International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
2021, Volume: 19, number: 2, pages: 175-198