Livelihoods transformation and climate change adaptation: the case of smallholder water buffalo farmers in the Philippines

Escarcha, Jacquelyn F. / Jonatan A. Lassa / Eric P. Palacpac / Kerstin K. Zander
External Publications (2020)

in: Environmental Development 33, article 100468

DOI: 10.1016/j.envdev.2019.100468

Livelihood transitions in most agricultural nations are conditioned by changes in both human and climate systems. In the Philippines, climate change related extreme weather events such as typhoons, floods, and droughts have detrimental impacts on crop production and have significantly affected the livelihoods of cash crop focused rural villages. A shift from crop to livestock production is emerging as a buffer activity to recover from crop losses; however, whether this adaptive response is viable is still unexplored. The aim of this study is to understand how Farmers perceive water buffalo as a transformative opportunity and how they use water buffalo in the adaptation process to sustain their livelihoods when the climate becomes more volatile. Data were collected from farming villages in the Nueva Ecija province, the Philippines using mixed methods. It was found that farmers' livelihood patterns evolved as economic consequences of recurrent crop failures caused by typhoons, flooding, and dry spells. Farmers' changed their farming activities as an adaptive response driven by past experiences of climatic changes, farmers' social relations, household capacity, and resources available. The increasing trend of shifting to water buffalo dairying demonstrated farmers' preferences for less risky sources of income in lieu of the opportunities and options available. Thus, local adaptation can be understood to be an outcome of both farmers’ livelihood survival strategies and the institutional Dynamics in their localities. The results imply a need to integrate adaptation programs that are linked to local livelihood development, particularly in the Carabao Development Program (CDP). This study concludes by suggesting issues to be considered for water buffalo dairying as a viable adaptation option for climate-resilient livelihoods.

About the author

Zander, Kerstin

Environmental Economist

Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

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Bauer, Steffen

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Beck, Tanja

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Brandi, Clara

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Dippel, Beatrice


Hägele, Ramona

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Iacobuta, Gabriela

Environmental Researcher 

Kuhn, Sascha

Social Psychology 

Lehmann, Ina

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Mathis, Okka Lou

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Never, Babette

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Srigiri, Srinivasa Reddy

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