Historical Climatic Trends and Smallholder Farmers' Perceptions of Climate Variability and Change in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands of Kenya
Dorcas N. Kalele 1*, Christopher Oludhe 1, 2, Joshua O. Onono 1, William O. Ogara 1
1 Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation, University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
2 Department of Meteorology, University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
This article presents an overview of smallholder farmers' perceptions of climate variability and change in synchrony with historical climate trends in Machakos County, Kenya. Farmers' perceptions were obtained using focus group discussions and household interviews. Monthly rainfall and temperature (minimum and maximum) data for the period of 1983-2014 were obtained and used in the analysis. The interview data were analyzed using descriptive statistics while data from the focus group discussions were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The Mann-Kendall test and linear regression analysis were used to detect statistically significant climate trends. Meteorological data provided some evidence to support farmers' perceptions of changes in rainfall and temperature. The Mann-Kendall test revealed statistically significant rainfall and temperature trends. The linear regression analysis showed increasing trends for both rainfall and temperature. Most farmers (77.7%) perceived decreasing amounts of seasonal rainfall contrary to analyzed seasonal rainfall trends, which showed an increase in seasonal rainfall. The experienced changes and variations in rainfall and temperature expose the farming systems to climate change risks. To support smallholder farmers in managing the increasing climate change risks, there is a need to enhance their adaptive capacity through effective adaptation planning and implementation.