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Climate 2018, 6(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli6020034

Evaluation of Small-Scale Fishers’ Perceptions on Climate Change and Their Coping Strategies: Insights from Lake Malawi

1
Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, N-1430 Ås, Norway
2
Department of Fisheries, P.O. Box 593, Lilongwe, Malawi
3
Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, N-1430 Ås, Norway
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 March 2018 / Revised: 18 April 2018 / Accepted: 24 April 2018 / Published: 30 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Services for Local Disaster Risk Reduction in Africa)
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Abstract

The effects of climate change have negatively affected Malawi’s agricultural production. In this context, fisheries have been providing alternative livelihoods. However, there is a knowledge gap around the responses of small-scale fishers to climate-related changes. Therefore, a study was conducted on the Western shores of Lake Malawi between August 2015 and April 2016. The study evaluated the perceived effects of climate change on small-scale fishers and their coping strategies by employing a wide range of methods for data collection and analysis. The study used explorative surveys, household surveys, focus group discussions and key informant interviews to collect data. The study randomly sampled 112 household heads who owned either fishing gear or a fishing vessel or both. Content analysis for themes was used to analyse the qualitative data. The Mann–Kendal Test was used to analyse trends in meteorological data, and binary logistic regression was used to determine factors that influence coping with low fish catches. Despite the respondents noticing an increased incidence of extreme weather events and low fish catches, their perceptions could not be validated using time series meteorological data. However, such perceptions were influenced by experience from long-time exposure to extreme weather events and to low fish catches. The majority of the fishers had adjusted to these changes by increasing their fishing time, using highly efficient illegal fishing nets, expanding farming land, operating small businesses and undertaking casual labour in agriculture and fishing activities. The fishers’ propensity to adjust to these changes increased due to the presence of the following factors: older age of household head, higher education level, being married and having an annual income. In contrast, being a member of fish conservation club decreased the probability of adjusting. This study emphasizes the need to be cautious when defining and framing perceptions of local communities on extreme weather events as data obtained could be misleading. Furthermore, a multi-sectoral approach to balance sustainable livelihoods and management of fisheries is needed. These findings provide theoretical and practical lessons that can inform design, planning and implementation of policies that enhance adaptive capacity in fisheries and promote sustainable livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. View Full-Text
Keywords: perceptions; Lake Malawi; climate change; coping strategies; logistic regression; vulnerability; adaptive capacity perceptions; Lake Malawi; climate change; coping strategies; logistic regression; vulnerability; adaptive capacity
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Limuwa, M.M.; Sitaula, B.K.; Njaya, F.; Storebakken, T. Evaluation of Small-Scale Fishers’ Perceptions on Climate Change and Their Coping Strategies: Insights from Lake Malawi. Climate 2018, 6, 34.

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