Alcade C. Segnon (Benin) 1,2,3; Edmond Totin (Benin) 2,4; Robert B. Zougmore (Mali) 2; Enoch G. Achigan-Dako (Benin) 3; Benjamin D. Ofori (Ghana) 1; Chris Gordon (Ghana) 1
1 - Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies, University of Ghana, Ghana; 2 - CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Mali; 3 - Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin; 4 - Université Nationale d'Agriculture du Bénin, Benin
West Africa semi-arid areas (SARs) are hotspots of climate change, with strong ecological, economic and social impacts, making socio-ecological systems particularly vulnerable. However, vulnerability in SARs is not driven only by climatic factors. In addition to climate, other biophysical, socioeconomic, institutional and political driving forces, operating at different scales, interact to influence vulnerability. This inter-connected nature of vulnerability in SARs has, however, received little attention in vulnerability assessment. This study adopted a modified Livelihood Vulnerability Index approach which include non-climatic dimensions and framed within the IPCC vulnerability framework. This multidimensional approach which offers a pragmatic and flexible tool for vulnerability assessment was used to assess household vulnerability to climatic and non-climatic stressors.
Empirical data collected from 501 households in a SAR of Mali were analysed using Factor Analysis of Mixed Data combined with Hierarchical Cluster Analysis to explore differential household vulnerability. The typology revealed five household vulnerability categories, differentiated based on sociodemographic profile, livelihood strategies, social network, resources and energy, physical accessibility, food security, health and sanitation, water security, environmental as well as socioeconomic shocks. Availability of productive household members and resources, particularly land and livestock, livelihood diversification and diversity of support from social networks are the main discriminant factors of household adaptive capacity.
Challenges to get food throughout the years make household more sensitive to shocks. The main shocks to which households in the study areas are exposed to include respectively drought, food scarcity, livestock disease, crops’ damage by transhumant herders and lack of labour. The analysis highlighted the diversity in household vulnerability and the context-specific nature of driving forces of vulnerability in SARs of West Africa. Failing to account for this diversity and nuanced understanding in adaptation planning may result in a mismatch between adaptation needs and interventions and poor impacts of adaptation interventions.