Strategies to adapt to climate change in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia: landscape impact assessment for on-farm adaptation
PhD Thesis Title: Strategies to adapt to climate change in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia: landscape impact assessment for on-farm adaptation
Alemayehu Muluneh Bitew
Agriculture and the economies of Ethiopia are highly sensitive to climatic fluctuations. Rainfall is the most important determinant of Ethiopia’s economic success or failure from year to year. A 10% decrease in seasonal rainfall from the long-term average generally translates into a 4.4% decrease in the country’s food production. Studies indicate that future climate change scenario by 2050 could also cause Ethiopian GDP to be 8-10% smaller than under a no-climate change baseline. The Central Rift Valley (CRV) of Ethiopia is a potential food producing area and yet one of the most drought prone areas in the country and already face an enormous food security challenge. The main objective of this study was, therefore, to quantify changes in current and future growing season rainfall characteristics including rainfall extremes and to evaluate their impacts with the intension of evaluating and developing potential adaptation options for maize cropping in the drought-prone CRV of Ethiopia. Projections for future climate in the CRV suggested that the Belg rainfall which is already erratic, occurring very late or failing altogether for the current climate will continue to decrease during the rest of this century which makes future Belg crop production very difficult. But, the Kiremt season total rainfall is likely to show an increase. Our field experiment and modelling has proven that for the current climate and future projections supplemental irrigation can avoid total crop failure in drought years and is a viable option to improve food security in the Rift Valley dry lands of Ethiopia. Furthermore, shifting sowing period of maize from the current Belg season (April or May) to the first month of Kiremt season (June) can offset the predicted yield reduction caused by climate change.