Factors affecting smallholder subsistence farmers’ drought adaptation and resilience: a case study from northern-central Namibia


  • DK Shiimi Ministry of Agriculture Water and Land Reform
  • V Charamba University of Namibia
  • HM Bello National University of Lesotho
  • E Lutaaya University of Namibia


coping mechanisms, drought, Namibia, resilience, smallholder farmers, vulnerability


A large proportion of households in northern Namibia rely on agriculture for livelihoods, yet the area is highly susceptible to drought shocks. Therefore, these households must employ strategies to adapt and mitigate the consequences of drought. This study aimed to identify factors affecting smallholder subsistence farmers’ vulnerability and adaptation to drought in Oshipya District, Etayi Constituency, Omusati Region in northern-central Namibia (NCN). Data on drought ex-ante and ex-post coping mechanisms and sociodemographic characteristics were collected from 80 randomly selected smallholder farmers using a structured questionnaire. Levels of drought resilience and vulnerability were estimated using a Rasch model. Farmers were categorised according to asset ownership using a multivariate cluster analysis technique, while a principal component analysis was used to estimate wealth scales. Furthermore, a general linear model was employed to assess factors affecting variability in household vulnerability and resilience to drought shocks. Gender of household head, marital status, membership of a farming organisation, household size, type of farming activities and farm size significantly affected farmers’ drought resilience levels. Combined crop-livestock farmers were more resilient than livestock or crop farmers while the level of drought adaptability increased with the size of the farm, years of farming experience and membership of a farming organisation. On the other hand, household size significantly affected vulnerability levels, with large households being more susceptible to the effects of drought. We encourage farmers to diversify their farming activities, diversify sources of livelihoods and join farming organisations to gain knowledge on drought mitigation. Furthermore, smallholder farmers should be better prepared for drought through infrastructure development, training, and provision of support services to make them self-reliant and hence reduce government expenditure on drought relief programmes.





Section A: Research articles