Gender and Climate Change Adaptation Decisions Among Farm Households in Southwest Nigeria



This study investigated gender and climate change adaptation decisions among farm households in Southwest Nigeria. In carrying out the study, five specific objectives and five hypotheses were developed to guide the study. Multi-stage random sampling techniques were employed in selecting the 348 farm units for the study. Data for the study were obtained from primary source using structured questionnaire. Data collected were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics such as multinomial logit (MNL) model, vulnerability analysis, Heckman’s double stage selection model, factor analysis, t-test and analysis of variance (ANOVA). Based on the data analyzed, the study found that majority (76%) of the farmers were males while 24% were females. The average year of education of the farmers was 7 years with an average household size about 8 persons. The average year of farming experience of the farmers was 36 years. The result on source of awareness of the farmers indicated that, greater percentage (79%) of the farmers were aware of climate change through personal observation, followed by 63% of the farmers that that indicated awareness through extension agents. The study identified 13 effects of climate change of agricultural production with mean values that ranged from 2.51 to 3.58 on a 4-point rating scale. Using household adaptive capacity approach, female headed farming households in southwest Nigeria were more vulnerable to effects of climate change with higher vulnerability index of 0.73 as against male headed households with vulnerability index of 0.43. The result of Heckman’s double stage selection model with rho 0.61561, Wald2χ= 743.72 and p≤0.0000 showed strong explanatory power of the model. The mean comparison of gender contribution to climate change adaptation decision in crop production activities showed that men had higher mean contribution of 3.42 than women with mean contribution of 2.67. On gender contribution to climate change adaptation decision making in livestock production, women had higher mean contribution of 3.55 against men with mean contribution of 3.27. The result of the parameter estimates from the multinomial logit (MNL) model was significant as indicated by χ2 statistics are highly significant at (p<0.0000). The explanatory power of the factors as reflected by Pseudo R2 was high (69%). The factors that militate against women contributions to climate change adaptation decision as revealed by the result of varimax-rotated principal component factor analysis include: socio-infrastructural, financial/cultural, technological and institutional factors. The findings on analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that there was no significant (p≤0.05) difference in the mean ratings of farmers from Ekiti, Ogun and Oyo states on the intensity of the effects of climate change across the local ecological zones. The result of the t-test statistics showed a significant (p≤0.05) difference in vulnerabilities of male and female headed households to the effects of climate change in southwest Nigeria. Based on the above findings, the study inter alia recommended that government should formulate specific policies providing increased women access to education, land and off-farm activities to alleviate the gender disparity in contribution to climate adaptation decision.





1.1   Background of the Study

Climate change is a global phenomenon undermining the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and efforts to reduce extreme poverty. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007), climate change is a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by using statistical tests, by change in the mean and the variability of climatic properties that persist for an extended period typically decades or longer. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (1992) described it as a change which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activities that alter the composition of the global atmosphere in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. Climate change has become more threatening not only to sustainable environmental quality but also as a major challenge to the fight against hunger, malnutrition, diseases and poverty in Africa through its impact on agricultural production. Until recently, government and non-governmental institutions, donors and other actors in natural resource use in developing countries seldom considered the risks and uncertainties associated with climate change in their development planning. Hence, Mendelsohn, Dinar and Dalfelt (2000) stated that many countries in tropical and sub-tropical regions are expected to be more vulnerable to warming and other devastating effects of climate change.

The vulnerability of African farmers to the effects of climate change is expected to be most severe in Nigeria (Ayinde, Ajewole, Ogunlade and Adewunmi, 2010), where funding to agricultural research has been comparatively low (Nigerian House Committee on Agriculture, 2005), the current spread of agricultural information and training are poorest (Enete and Amusa, 2011), technological changes have been the slowest (Action Aid International, 2008), and where domestic economies depend heavily on rain-fed agriculture (Apata, 2008). The threats of climate change cut across all the sub-sectors of Nigerian agriculture such as livestock, crop production, agroforestry, fishery, agricultural products processing and so on. For instance, Valtorta (2009) noted that climate change affects animal production in four ways: (a) the impact of changes in livestock feed-grain availability and price; (b) impacts on livestock pastures and forage crop production and quality; (c) changes in the distribution of livestock diseases and pests; and (d) the direct effects of weather and extreme events on animal health, growth and reproduction. Crop production is also significantly affected by the changes in climate and atmospheric carbondioxide (CO2) (Rosenzweig and Hillel, 1998). The changes in temperature and precipitation might further alter both arable and forest crop yields, water and nutrient budgets in the field thereby subjecting crops to stress (Tubiello, Rosenzweig, Goldberg, Jagtab and Jones, 2002). In addition, Khanal (2009) noted that heat stress might affect the whole physiological development, maturation and finally yield of cultivated crops. On the damages to aquatic lives, climate change will likely affect the metabolism, growth and distribution of many aquatic organisms as well influence diseases that afflict them. For agricultural processing, Canadian Grain Commission (2009) reported that the heat effect of climate change on processed agricultural products causes the growth and development of spoilage molds which affect products in storage by causing adverse quality changes, heat-damage, dull appearance, musty odours, visible moulds, production of toxins and allergens. This situation is worst in sub-saharan African countries; Nigeria inclusive.

Nigeria for instance, and other developing countries are already experiencing low crop yields and altered animal compositions as a result of extreme weather and climate change. Recent studies have also shown that there has been precipitation decrease in the humid regions of West Africa, including parts of southern Nigeria since the beginning of the century (Adebayo, Dauda, Rikko, George, Fashola, Atungwu, Iposu, Shobowale and Osuntade, 2011). This is evidenced by the late arrival of rains, drying up of streams and small rivers that usually flow year round. The seasonal shifting of rain and that of the fruiting period in Oyo State and the gradual disappearance of flood-recession cropping in riverine areas of Ondo State are among the effects of climate change in communities in the southwest Nigeria (Adebayo, et al, 2011). In addressing this global threat, Tubiello and Rosenzweig (2008) stated that a wide range of adaptations exist within farming system to help maintain or increase crop and livestock yields under climate change.

Climate change adaptation methods according to Nyong, Adesina and Osman-Elasha (2007) are those strategies that enable the individual or the community to cope with or adjust to the impacts of the change in climate. Climate change adaptation as described by IPCC (2001) is an adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or explores beneficial opportunities. In agriculture, adaptation helps farmers achieve their food, income and livelihood security objectives in the face of changing climatic and socio-economic conditions including climatic variability, extreme weather conditions such as droughts, floods and volatile short term changes in local and large-scale markets (Kandlinkar and Risbey, 2000). Adaptation practices are mostly at farm household level to combat climate change while mitigation implies implementation of policies to reduce Green House Gases (GHGs) emission and enhance sinking (FAO, 2008).

Such adaptation strategies for crop production among farmers in southern Nigeria include the adoption of efficient environmental resources management practices such as the planting of early maturing crops, mulching, small scale irrigation, adoption of hardy varieties of crops, tree planting, early planting, fadama and staking to avoid heat burns (Adebayo, et al, 2011 and Nyong, et al, 2007). Adaptation strategies that are employed by farmers for livestock rearing include the use of emergency fodder in times of droughts, multi-species composition of herds to survive climate extremes, culling of old livestock, de-stocking to reduce population and climatic inducing heat stress, expand rain harvest, shading, supplementary feeding, dip and dose, fence camp and provision of more opportunity for livestock for water among others (Oba, 1997; Nyong, et al, 2007 and Adesina, et al, 2008).

Adaptation and mitigation to climatic change in agriculture range from technological solutions to adjustments in farm management or structures and to political changes such as adaptation plans (Brussel, 2009). These measures are categorized into (i) technological development, (ii) government programmes and insurance, (iii) farm production practices, and (iv) farm financial management. The first two categories are principally the responsibility of public agencies and agri-business; and adaptation here could be thought of as system-wide or macro scale. The last two categories of adaptation are the responsibilities of farmers at farm household level. The report of WEDO (2008) showed that, in the context of climate change adaptation practices among farmers, gender perspective is vital for effective policies.

The term “gender” refers to socially ascribed roles, responsibilities and opportunities associated with women and men, as well as the hidden power structures that govern relationships between them (UNDP, 2010). Gender issues focus not only on women but on the relationship among men, women and children and their roles, access to and control over resources and division of labour in meeting household needs (Barker, 2002). Gender in the context of this study relates to contributions of male and female farmers to decision making in climate change adaptation activities in crop and livestock production. Gender relation in agriculture is important for it determines household security, household well-being and many other aspects of life (Rota, Sperandini and Hartl, 2010) such as allocation of household resources through decision making. Risbey, Kandlikar and Dowlatabadi (1999) stated that the responses of farmers to cope with the associated challenges of climate change in food production result from their farming decisions.

Farm decision making according to Ilbery (1985) is an on-going process whereby farmers are continually making short and long-term decisions to manage risks emanating from variety of climatic and non-climatic sources. In addition, Smith and Skinner (2002) observed that adaptation to climate change is the result of individual farmer’s decisions influenced by climatic forces internal to the farm households and external forces that affect the agricultural system at large. Farming decision making is therefore a mental and intelligent process in which farmers use information available about farm resources to select and combine those farm resources they consider best for addressing their farming challenges and achieving farming objectives. Farmers constantly face such challenges as tragic crop failures, reduced agricultural productivity, increased hunger, malnutrition and diseases (Zoellick, 2009) which are mostly as a result of changes in climatic conditions. Climatic and agricultural challenges have placed many farmers in the position of making critical decisions about farming, financial security and well-being that has long term consequences. These farmers have developed intricate systems of gathering, prediction, interpretation and decision-making in relation to weather. To a very great extent, these systems of climate forecasts have been very helpful to the farmers in managing their vulnerability.

Farmers are known to make decisions on cropping patterns based on local predictions of climate, and decisions on planting dates based on complex cultural models of weather (Nyong, et al, 2007). Farmers’ awareness and ability to cope with changes in climate attributes (temperature and precipitation) are important to adaptation decision making (Maddison, 2006). It is well documented in the literature that gendered divisions of labour and decision-making power may affect the farm households’ ability to respond to the effects of climate change (WEDO 2008; Parikh, 2007; UNFCCC 2007, Commission on the Status of Women, 2008; BRIDGE, 2008). It is based on this background that this study therefore investigated issues surrounding gender, climate change adaptation and farming decisions using farm households in Southwest Nigeria as case study.

1.2   Statement of the Problem.

The realization of African Green Revolution, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with their expected contributions to food security and economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is threatened by climate change. In this regard, the smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to changes in the climate that reduce productivity and negatively affect their weather-dependent livelihood systems. From the exacerbation of poverty to the breakdown of infrastructure, loss of environmental, political, economic and social security, the impacts of climate change are extensive. However, Obiora (2009) observed that a critical aspect that is usually missing when discussing climate change, especially during roundtable policy negotiations is the gender perspective. The author further observed that policy makers have identified the lack of gender disaggregated data as a major challenge in bringing gender on the climate change agenda.

Actions to reduce the impacts of climate change on agricultural production can only be effective with an understanding of gender differentiated impacts, vulnerabilities (Babugura, Mtshali and Mtshali, 2010); and contributions to climate change resilience so as to address the specific needs of men and women farmers (USAID, 2010). Effective gender-based participation and responsibilities in natural resources management ensure balanced, equitable and sustainable development in developing countries. This is because, gender and climate change are cross-cutting issues (USAID, 2010), but the current framework in which the threats of climate change on agriculture are being addressed often times neglects gender perspectives which are crucial for successful adaptation and mitigation (Parikh, 2007; Carvajal, Quintero and Garcia, 2008 and BRIDGE, 2008).

Gender approach (or analysis) takes into consideration the fact that women and men react to and participate in social, economic and environmental realities differently depending on their age, socio-economic status and culture (UNDP, 2008). For instance, Oluwatayo (2011) while assessing the gender considerations in decision making among households in Ekiti state found out that, out of the ten identified decisions bothering on food security, only three decisions concerning type of food to buy, when to take the food and food security coping strategies to adopt were taken by women. Other major decisions like input acquisition, house rent, keeping of proceeds from occupation and spending of the proceeds were the sole responsibility of men. The above evidence, suggests that the bulk of the decisions impacting on food security are taken by men, thus putting women at a disadvantaged position in spite of their prime importance in ensuring household food security.

In addition, Enete and Amusa (2010); Damisa and Yohanna (2007) reported that there are variations in gender contributions to farming decision across major farm activities from land preparation to agricultural processing and marketing of farm produce. According to Paul and Saadullah (1991), gender participation in decision making process of farm activities and investment cannot be looked at in isolation. The participation of men, women and children in decision making is so interdependent that they support each other in everyday life in a large number of social, productive and economic activities. Therefore, in the face of climate change, taking gender into consideration in decision making will provide better guidance for women and men who are building adaptive capacity in places where inhabitants depend on rain-fed agriculture and natural resources. Lambrou and Piana (2006) added that a critical view of gender dimensions of climate change using case studies across the globe will provide critical gender-disaggregated data on climate change impacts, gender vulnerability and roles in climate change resilience for policy makers, which had been neglected until recently.

Available studies recently conducted in vulnerable African countries (Nigeria inclusive), where gender and climate change adaptation are captured include the studies of Babugura, et al, (2010); Agwu, (2009); Okhimamhe, (2009); Aguilar, (2009); Haigh and Vallely, (2010); among others. None of these studies however focused on gender and climate change with regards to adaptation decisions. On the other hand, available empirical studies that estimated gender roles in farm decision making focused on crop and livestock production activities and never attempted to capture farming decision in relations to climate change adaptation. These are evident in Enete and Amusa, (2010); Damisa and Yohanna, (2007); Jill, Hema and Anuja, (2001); Kishor, Gupta, Yaday and Singh (1999). It is therefore imperative that gender roles in climate change adaptation decision making be empirically investigated for the development of effective climate change policies that are gender responsive. This is because, the study made available much needed data on gender desegregated contributions to climate change adaptation decisions in crop and livestock production, the determinants of climate change awareness and adaptation, the vulnerability of male and female headed households to effects of climate change and gendered factor-constraints of the farmers in making contributions to climate change adaptation decisions; thereby contributing towards filling the gaps that exist in knowledge.

1.3   Objectives of the Study.

The broad objective of this study was to assess gender and climate change adaptation decisions among farm households in southwest, Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. estimate gender-based awareness and vulnerability to climate change among the farmers in the study area;
  2. estimate the determinants of farmers’ adaptation and extent of adaptation to climate change in the area;
  • make comparative analysis of gender contributions to climate change adaptation decision making in crop and livestock production activities among farming households in the study area;
  1. estimate the influence of socio-economic characteristics of the farmers on their contributions to climate change adaptation decision making in their farm households and
  2. identify the major constraints militating against women farmers in climate change adaptation decision making in the study area.

1.4    Hypotheses of the Study.

  1. There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of farmers from the three local ecological zones on the intensity of climate change effects in the study area.
  2. There no significant difference in gender-based awareness and vulnerability to the effects of climate change in the study area.
  3. Socio-economic characteristics of the farmers have no significant relationship on their adaptation and extent of adaptation to climate change in the study area.
  4. There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of men and women farmers’ contributions to climate change adaptation decisions in crop and livestock production activities in the study area.
  5. Socio-economic characteristics of the farmers have no significant influence on their contributions to climate adaptation decisions in the study area.


1.5    Justification of the Study.

Farmers constantly face such challenges as tragic crop failures, reduced agricultural productivity, increased hunger, malnutrition and diseases (Zoellick, 2009) which are often times due to changes in climatic conditions. Increase in farm output results from sound decision making in the management of associated farming challenges such as climate change and crop failure. Literature suggests that linking gender to farm decision making is important for formulation of gender sensitive policies (Kishor, et al, 1999). Gender and climate change adaptation are also regarded as cross cutting issues (USAID, 2010) but there is lack of empirical evidence in relation to gender differentials in climate change adaptation decisions among farming households. This study is therefore necessitated to bridge the gap that exist with regard to gender differentiated contributions to climate change adaptation decisions among farming households in South-western Nigeria.

The findings of this study will be found useful by States and Federal ministries of environment and agriculture especially in the review and formulation of environmental and gender related policies that will empower and moderate the contributions of men and women to climate change adaptation decision making at farm households level. The research findings will also be useful to local NGO’s and international agencies that are involved in agricultural development, gender mainstreaming in agriculture and climate change adaptation by farm households. This is because with the information that was made available by this study, the concerned NGOs and agencies will be more informed and focussed in formulating agricultural and gender sensitive policies especially in relating to climate change adaptation decision making at farm households level. Policy makers and extension agents will be more equipped with necessary information that will be made available towards addressing the major barriers facing men and women farmers in making contributions to households’ adaptation decisions to climate change in the vulnerable African countries.

Finally, fellow researchers and research consult with research interest in gender related studies, intra farm households gender relations, climate change adaptation and farm decision making will be properly guided to be more focused based on the information that was provided by this study.


1.6    Limitations of the Study.

The study had the following limitations:

Firstly, the study was limited to investigation of gender and climate change adaptation decision in food crop and livestock production among farm household in southwest Nigeria. Therefore, gender and adaptation decision as regards other farm enterprises such as fishing, agroforestry and agricultural processing are not made focus of the study.

Secondly, out of 360 copies of the questionnaire administered, 348 copies were considered good for data extraction and were consequently used for the study. The high return rate of 348 was achieved due to extra effort to reprint additional copies of questionnaire for administration in zones where retrieval of the questionnaire was problematic. In addition, main sources of information provided by the farmers were memory recalls. Most of the farmers lacked the ability to keep comprehensive farm records, hence much persuasion was used to obtain as much information as possible.

Thirdly, attempt to bring together both the male and female farmers playing leading roles in order to capture gender disparity in decision making in some farm households was difficult than expected. In such few farm households, extra efforts were made to interview the men and women on different occasions at additional effort and cost.


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