Prioritization of climate change adaptation strategies by smallholder farmers in semi-arid savannah agro-ecological zones: insights from the Talensi District, Ghana


Semiarid savannah agro-ecological zones are considered climate vulnerability hotspots. In Ghana, smallholder farmers in such agro-ecological zones are impacted by climate change due to their agro-based livelihoods, subsistence nature and extensive reliance on rain-fed agriculture. For such climate vulnerability hotspots, scholars and policymakers recommend varied strategies to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change. Yet, how smallholder farmers value and prioritize these varied strategies is limited. This paper combines an ethnographic method with pairwise ranking as a participatory technique to capture smallholder farmers’ prioritization of strategies to tackle climate change impacts in the Talensi district, a semiarid savannah agro-ecological zone in Ghana. Results showed that smallholder farmers prioritize and adapt on-farm and off-farm strategies to build their capacities against climate change impacts. However, some of the strategies prioritized by smallholder farmers such as illegal small-scale mining and burning and selling charcoal have maladaptive ramifications as they could exacerbate climate change impacts. The study calls for policy sensitivity to climate vulnerabilities of semiarid agro-ecological zones through the design and implementation of climate action plans that recognize smallholder farmers’ adaptation priorities, understand lived experiences, and integrate indigenous knowledge to tackle climate change impacts.

Publication Title

Journal of Social and Economic Development