One of the biggest challenges for South African food security is recurring drought. It is a major concern due to insufficient knowledge and the low levels of resources or livelihood assets available to farmers in vulnerable situations, thereby limiting coping and adaptation choices. The objective of this paper was to identify the current adaptation and coping measures used by smallholder farmers, with a particular emphasis on farmers’ vulnerability to drought and the adaptive measures or strategies that are effective in the study area. In addition, we determined factors influencing their choice of adaptation strategies. In this way, the extent of farmers’ vulnerability and how this affects the choice of coping or adaptation strategies during drought were determined. The multinomial probit model (MPM) was used to examine the factors that influence farmers’ choice of coping/adaptation strategies in the study area. The results show that the respondents’ human capital vulnerability to drought was very high compared to their economic and social vulnerability. Influences such as age, gender, and marital status contributed to their human capital vulnerability. The majority of the respondents implemented water-use restrictions as a coping strategy during drought periods. There were several reasons for this, such as the resources available, the effective coping strategy for that specific location/area, and the socio-economic status of the respondents. The inadequate contribution by the government to drought risk reduction, the age of the respondents, the monthly income of each household, and the inequality of decision-making powers between male and female respondents were also found to contribute greatly to choosing an effective adaptation strategy. This study contributes to the ongoing investigation of the adaptation strategies and coping measures used by farmers vulnerable to drought in arid and semi-arid areas in Africa. This is done by identifying effective adaptation and coping measures within the farmers’ operational environment, unlike other studies that have only identified adaptation and coping strategies without examining their effectiveness in the given environment. Also, the inclusion of the human, social, economic, institutional, natural, and political forms of capital as determinants of the farmers’ choice of adaption and coping measures provides relevant insights for efficient and sustainable policy design.
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