African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6691

Full Length Research Paper

Assessing rural farmers’ perceptions and vulnerability to climate change in uMzinyathi District of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

Stephen Shisanya*
  • Stephen Shisanya*
  • Water Research Commission (WRC), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South Africa.
  • Google Scholar
Paramu Mafongoya
  • Paramu Mafongoya
  • Water Research Commission (WRC), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South Africa.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 25 October 2016
  •  Accepted: 14 November 2016
  •  Published: 09 March 2017


There is little awareness among rural farming communities on their vulnerability to climate change. This paper examined the vulnerabilities of the rural small scale farming communities in the uMzinyathi District of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to climate change. A survey among 200 households who were randomly chosen but who had lived in the community for over twenty years was conducted. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were carried out to obtain qualitative data.  Over the period 1993 to 2010, average annual temperature had increased by 1.5°C. Rainfall generally decreased over the period 1981 to 2010 with a range of 907 mm.  Household perception on extreme climate conditions were a reflection of the quantitative climate data collected. Households were anxious (76%) that they will face negative impacts of climate change in future. Households were evenly distributed across the five vulnerability categories. Perceptions of communities to climate change should be considered by policy makers in advancing strategies to mitigate impacts of climate change.  Vulnerability of farmers to climate change could be reduced by investing in early warning systems, providing farmers with information on climate change and farmers seeking alternative livelihood options rather than agriculture. Household specific interventions should be considered in mitigating climate change.

Key words: Local knowledge, adoptive capacity, early warning systems, agriculture, mitigation.