The study was designed to ascertain the strategies for climate change adaptation among rural households in Imo State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study ascertained the respondents’ level of awareness on climate change, ascertained their perceived causes of climate change, identified and documented the effective local adaptation strategies to climate change, and finally identified factors that militate against effective adaptation to climate change in the study area. All the rural households in the state constituted the population for the study. A total of 108 respondents, made up of 12 household heads selected from each of the nine villages purposively selected for the study were used. Data were collected using semi-structured questionnaires. Percentage distribution, mean statistic, charts, and factor analysis were used to analyze the data. The major findings showed that majority (78.3%) of the respondents were aware of climate change. It further showed that a greater proportion, (about 41%) of the respondents know very little about climate change. Most of the respondents, (about 62%) were aware of climate change through personal experience and observation. Further, most of the respondents (47.7%) described climate change as persistent short rainfall duration. About 71% of the respondents agreed that climate change had effect on agriculture, while about 49% of the respondents perceived that major effect of climate change on agriculture was declining crop yield. Some percentages (about 18.0%) of the respondents perceived women as the most vulnerable to climate change. The respondents perceived gas flaring (M= 2.07), violation of local customs (M = 2.01) and natural phenomena (M = 2.00) as the causes of climate change in the study area. Furthermore, they perceived growing of drought-resistant crop varieties (M = 1.14), use of pest/disease resistant crop varieties (M = 1.06), roof water harvesting (M = 1.00), sinking of more wells (M = 1.06), ground water harvesting (M = 1.07), planting deeper into the soil to avoid heat stress (M = 1.10), increased weeding (M = 1.29), changing of planting dates (M = 1.05), and changing timing of land preparation (M = 1.01) as effective adaptation strategies to climate change in the study area. Perceived constraints to effective adaptation to climate change in the study area were limited access to improved crop varieties (M= 1.95), high cost of farm labour (M= 1.80), inadequate financial resources to adapt (M= 1.80), high cost of diversification of enterprise (M=1.78), lack of irrigation schemes (M = 1.66), high cost of constructing dams (M = 1.58), limited access to improved livestock breeds (M = 1.57), limited availability of land (M = 1.53), high cost of land (M = 1.53), poor extension service (M = 1.52) and lack of government policy on adaptation (M= 1.50). However, the constraints were grouped into: financial constraints with high cost of diversification of enterprise (0.85), inadequate financial resources to adapt (0.83), high cost of labour (0.83), high cost of improved crop varieties (0.78) and poor extension service (0.66) as factors that loaded under it; government failures with poor land ownership system (0.81), low income level (0.80), use of zero tillage encourages weed growth, pest and disease attack (0.73) and poor responses to crises related to climate change (0.67) and limited land availability (0.61) as factors loading under it; and finally technical constraints with lack of access to weather forecast (0.70), planting before the rains result to crop failure (0.68) and inadequate knowledge on how to cope (0.65) as factors loading under it. The study concluded that as a result of the little knowledge of the respondents on climate change owing to their reliance on personal observation and experience as major sources of information on climate change, the extension agency and mass media should be fully used in the dissemination of information on climate change in the rural areas.

1.1  Background information
Climate change according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of 2007 is already happening and represents one of the greatest threats facing the earth. The warming of the earth is now evident from air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of ice and snow and the rising global mean sea level. It reflects abnormal variations in the earth’s climate and subsequent effects on parts of the earth such as ice caps over durations ranging from decades to millions of years. In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, climate change usually reflects or refers to changes in the climate (Kolbert, 2006). According to Seiz and Foppa (2007), climate change is the result of many factors including the dynamic processes of the earth itself, external forces including variations in sunlight intensity and more recently human activities or anthropogenic factors. Of major concern in anthropogenic factors is the increase in the carbon dioxide (CO2) level due to emissions from fossil fuels combustion followed by aerosols, cement manufacture, ozone layer depletion, animal agriculture and deforestation (Steinfeld, 2006).

Climate change hazards mostly affect the poor, destroying homes and livelihoods and affecting participation in development process itself. In both developed and developing societies, these hazards lead to food and water shortages and disease outbreaks (Tjaronda, 2007) among other effects/impacts. The poor are heavily dependent on the ecosystem services and therefore most severely affected by deteriorating environmental conditions. While climate change is not the only threat to natural resources flow, it will affect the viability of livelihoods unless effective measures are taken to protect and diversify them through adaptation and other strategies (Steinfeld, 2006).

Local communities have been observed to be the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. According to Brooks (2008) such changes that heighten the vulnerability of the local people include desertification, coastal erosion, deforestation, loss of forest quality, sea level rise, woodland degradation, reduced fresh water availability, coral bleaching, the spread of malaria and dengue fever and impacts on food security. Research has shown that one-third of the Nigerian territory is under siege by the expanding frontiers of the Sahara desert with whole villages in the north disappearing under sand dunes, turning the affected villagers into refugees in their own lands (Building Nigeria’s Response to Climate Change, BNRCC, 2008). In the South, the Atlantic Ocean is threatening coastal cities including Nigeria’s financial and industrial hub, Lagos and the Niger Delta, while increased storms and floods have dissipated agriculture, infrastructure and human habitat in the East (Eze, 2008).

According to Offor (2008), rainfall in the Sahel has been declining since the 1960s. The result has been loss of farmlands, and conflicts between herdsmen and farmers over land resource; many different communities including farmers, fishermen and herdsmen are now confronted with difficulties arising from climate changes; people’s livelihoods are being harmed and people who are already poor are becoming even more impoverished; climate refugees are being created as the changes make some lands unliveable and affect water supplies (Eze, 2008). The exploitation of gas and oil in the Niger Delta area has also exposed communities to environmental and land pollution (Offor, 2008).

According to Kitano (2002) adaptation is the process of responding or adjusting to actual and potential impacts of changing climate conditions in ways that moderate harm or take advantage of any positive opportunities that climate may afford. It includes policies and measures to reduce....

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