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Article

Water Quality Threats, Perceptions of Climate Change and Behavioral Responses among Farmers in the Ethiopian Rift Valley

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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
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Sanford School of Public Policy and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, P.O. Box 90239, Durham, NC 27708, USA
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Department of Public Administration, North Carolina Central University, 1801 Fayetteville St, Durham, NC 27707, USA
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School of Earth Sciences, Addis Ababa University (AAU), Addis Ababa P.O. Box 1176, Ethiopia
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Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI), University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Steven McNulty
Climate 2021, 9(6), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9060092
Received: 18 May 2021 / Accepted: 2 June 2021 / Published: 6 June 2021
This work aims to assess water quality for irrigated agriculture, alongside perceptions and adaptations of farmers to climate change in the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER). Climate change is expected to cause a rise in temperature and variability in rainfall in the region, reducing surface water availability and raising dependence on groundwater. The study data come from surveys with 147 farmers living in the Ziway–Shala basin and water quality assessments of 162 samples from groundwater wells and surface water. Most groundwater samples were found to be unsuitable for long term agricultural use due to their high salinity and sodium adsorption ratio, which has implications for soil permeability, as well as elevated bicarbonate, boron and residual sodium carbonate concentrations. The survey data indicate that water sufficiency is a major concern for farmers that leads to frequent crop failures, especially due to erratic and insufficient rainfall. An important adaptation mechanism for farmers is the use of improved crop varieties, but major barriers to adaptation include a lack of access to irrigation water, credit or savings, appropriate seeds, and knowledge or information on weather and climate conditions. Local (development) agents are identified as vital to enhancing farmers’ knowledge of risks and solutions, and extension programs must therefore continue to promote resilience and adaptation in the area. Unfortunately, much of the MER groundwater that could be used to cope with declining viability of rainfed agriculture and surface water availability, is poor in quality. The use of saline groundwater could jeopardize the agricultural sector, and most notably commercial horticulture and floriculture activities. This study highlights the complex nexus of water quality and sufficiency challenges facing the agriculture sector in the region, and should help decision-makers to design feasible strategies for enhancing adaptation and food security. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate change; perception; adaptation; irrigation water quality; agriculture; smallholder farmers; Ethiopia Rift Valley climate change; perception; adaptation; irrigation water quality; agriculture; smallholder farmers; Ethiopia Rift Valley
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MDPI and ACS Style

Godebo, T.R.; Jeuland, M.A.; Paul, C.J.; Belachew, D.L.; McCornick, P.G. Water Quality Threats, Perceptions of Climate Change and Behavioral Responses among Farmers in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. Climate 2021, 9, 92. https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9060092

AMA Style

Godebo TR, Jeuland MA, Paul CJ, Belachew DL, McCornick PG. Water Quality Threats, Perceptions of Climate Change and Behavioral Responses among Farmers in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. Climate. 2021; 9(6):92. https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9060092

Chicago/Turabian Style

Godebo, Tewodros R., Marc A. Jeuland, Christopher J. Paul, Dagnachew L. Belachew, and Peter G. McCornick. 2021. "Water Quality Threats, Perceptions of Climate Change and Behavioral Responses among Farmers in the Ethiopian Rift Valley" Climate 9, no. 6: 92. https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9060092

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