ILRI Study Identifies Areas in which Livestock will be Critical for Adaptation

© ILRI June 2009: A new study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a research center of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), finds that climate change will affect food security in areas that are already marginal for crop production, leading to shifts in livelihood strategies from crop production to increased reliance on livestock.

The study, titled “Croppers to Livestock Keepers: Livelihood Transitions to 2050 in Africa Due to Climate Change,” investigates the impacts of the increasing frequency of climate-related stresses, such as heat waves, drought or flooding, on food security and livelihood strategies of communities depending on marginal agricultural lands. Based on an analysis of estimated probabilities of crop failures, the study identifies so called “transition zones” where crop failure may induce shifts from cropping to increased dependence on livestock. The researchers further analyze adaptation options arising from such shifts, concluding that transition zones close to large human settlements may benefit from options for both integrating livestock systems into the market economy and for off-farm employment opportunities. Adaptation will be more difficult in rural areas where such options are limited. These results suggest that poor communities in remote areas will be disproportionately affected by climate change. The researchers note that the study should support implementation of targeted schemes for promoting livestock ownership, facilitating risk management and efforts to broaden income generating opportunities. They also highlight the need for priority setting and impact assessment as well as adjustments in research portfolios, and the selection of technology testing sites in order to take into account climate change in research and development planning. [The Study][Press Release]