Perceived Climate Variability and Farm Level Adaptation in the Central River Region of The Gambia

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the recurring erratic and uneven rainfall distribution has resulted in low crop yields, income losses, and low food stock. In response to these climate change challenges, farmers have recourse to several coping strategies to survive. This present paper explores farmers’ perception of climate variability and the coping strategies in use in the Central River Region of The Gambia. The main purpose of this paper is to analyze perceived climate variability and farm level adaptation options in the region. Data were collected from 283 farmhouses through transect walks, quantitative surveys including the use focus group discussions. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Results revealed that farmers generally perceive an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events and a decrease in the duration of the growing season. With regards to vulnerability and severity, nearly 95% of the respondents considered the dryness as the main threat to their farming activities and perceived its consequences as the most severe. The results equally showed that the perception of changes is linked to the adoption of some adaptation measures among which the preferred were the use of chemical fertilizers (66%), though it is stated to be the most expensive. The Spearman correlation test showed that the use of water conservation techniques is highly correlated with the quality of soil surface structure (p ≤ 0.01) and soil storage capacity (p ≤ 0.01). Findings of this study are of paramount importance in planning and implementing adaptation policies in The Gambia and beyond. To improve farmers’ resilience, drought tolerant crops should be promoted along with climate change and variability awareness campaigns.