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Farmers’ strategies for adapting to climate change in Niger. Included in Restoring African Drylands


The West African Sahel is very vulnerable to the effects of climate change, due to land degradation, dependence on rainfed farming, political instability, poor governance, food insecurity, terrorism, poor infrastructure, and limited technical capacity. This has particular impacts on the agricultural sector (Sissoko et al. 2011; Zougmoré et al. 2016).

High levels of poverty and illiteracy also challenge agriculture, alongside a lack of adequate agricultural policies and agricultural investment, and limited mechanization. Conflict also affects agricultural societies and pastoral activities (Snorek et al. 2014). In addition, there is population pressure. Niger has the world highest population growth (INS 2016), which leads to agricultural saturation, the now total absence of fallowing land and increased landuse conflicts.

Agricultural systems in the West African Sahel are vulnerable to climate change. Farmers in Niger have developed many adaptation strategies, which provide myriad services with socioeconomic and ecological benefits.

These include zai pits, stone bunds, mulching, crop rotation, multiple cropping systems, half-moons, filtering dikes, fertilizer micro-doses, use of manure, and farmer managed natural regeneration. Strategies also include pest control measures, use of drought-tolerant and early maturing crops varieties, improved crop storage facilities, and use of timely and accurate weather forecasting.

Some adaptation measures involve the use of land law and environmental law to regulate the use of resources. In addition, farmers reduce risks through loans from agricultural banks to invest in irrigation infrastructure and agricultural inputs. These measures are being considered at the highest level, such as in the national strategy and plan for climate change adaption in the agricultural sector 2020 (République du Niger 2020). Now it is hoped that these strategies can be adequately financed and effectively implemented so farmers and pastoralists alike can have the support they require to
adopt more climate-smart practices and improve their livelihoods.

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