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The Intergovernmental Panel on Flood (IPCC) (2007), views flood as statistically significant variation in either mean state of the climate or in its variability, persisting for an extended period (typically decades or longer). Flood maybe due to natural processes, external forces or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land-use. There have been growing awareness that the earth‘s climate is changing at an alarming rate and the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Flood (IPCC) affirms that flood is no longer in doubt but is now unequivocally apparent based on evidence from scientific observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures (IPCC, 2007). Although extreme violent weather has occurred throughout history, recent upsurge in climate related hazards is confirming the argument for global warming and flood (McGuire, Macon and Kilburn, 2002; Odjugo and Ikhuoria, 2003; Nwafor, 2006). 

The evolving flood coupled with increasing temperature has been observed to plunge some localities into experiencing extreme weather conditions (Olaniran, 2002; Ayoade, 2003; Odjugo, 2005). The on-going flood and its associated global warming are expected to cause distinctive climate patterns in different climatic zones, which will impact negatively on the ecosystem (Mshelia, 2005; Hengeveld, Whitewood, and Fergusson, 2005; Ayuba, Maryah, and Gwary, 2007). That is why Ojo (1991) and Clerk (2002) advised that weather and climate should not be taken for granted in the pursuit of technological development, exploration and processing of environmental resources. The impact of flood is felt worldwide, but the effects are more varied in countries based on certain underlying factors. In the Nigerian context, the severe impact of flood is felt majorly by people whose livelihoods are more intertwined with nature such as farmers, livestock rearers, biomass users among others. 

Climate plays an important role in the living and livelihood of man. Hence, changes are perceived by humans based on peculiarity of effects and local level variation. Consequently different communities perceive flood differently and this should be taken into account for national and regional policy initiatives to either combat or cope with flood impacts. Hence, the focus of this study is on the perception of farmers.

In the context of flood, adaptability is often referred to as ―adaptive capacity,‖ defined as, ―the ability of a system to adjust to flood (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences‖ (McCarthy, Canziani, Leary, Dokken, and White, 2001: p. 21). Scenario based flood impact assessments increasingly make assumptions about adaptations and invariably treat them as mostly technical adjustments (for example, changing to different crops, adopting efficient irrigation systems, or altering production systems) to the impacts identified. 

Coping strategies are those that have evolved over time through farmers‘ long experience in dealing with the current known and understood natural variation in weather that they expect both within and between seasons, whereas adaptation strategies are longer-term (beyond a single rainfall season) strategies that would be needed to respond to a new set of evolving climatic conditions that they have not previously experienced. Adaptations to flood are not just discrete technical measures, but are modifications to farm practices with respect to multiple (climatic and non-climatic) stimuli and conditions. Flood adaptation refers to adjustments in management strategies to actual or expected climatic conditions or their effects, in order to reduce risks or realize opportunities (Smit, Burton, Klein, and Wandel, 2000). Adaptations usually take different forms, can occur at different scales, and can be undertaken by different agents of a community (e.g farmers, middlemen, large scale organizations, and governments). There is thus a need to continuously assess coping and adaptation ability of farmers, who are stakeholders in the flood issues toward evolving avenues of mitigating undesirable impacts. This study is a contribution to that process using Ikara local government area of Kaduna state as the locale of



Available evidences show that flood is global, likewise its impacts, but the biting effects will be felt more by the developing countries especially those in Africa due to their low level of coping capabilities (Mshelia, 2005; Nwafor, 2007; Jagtap, 2007).  Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to flood in the world. Previous assessments (Hulme, 1996; IPCC, 1998;) concluded that Africa is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of flood because of factors such as widespread poverty, recurrent droughts, inequitable land distribution and over dependence on rain-fed agriculture.

Nigeria is one of such developing countries and researchers have shown that Nigeria is already being plagued with diverse ecological problems, which have been directly linked to the on-going flood (Adebayo, 1997; Odjugo and Ikhuoria, 2003; NEST, 2003; Chindu and Nyelong, 2005; Odjugo, 2005; Adefolalu, 2007; Ikhile, 2007). These studies focused more on climatic impacts. 

The unimpeded increase in greenhouse gas emissions is raising the earth‘s temperature. The consequences include melting glaciers, more precipitation, more and more extreme weather events, and shifting seasons. The accelerating pace of flood, combined with increase in global population, threaten food security everywhere. Populations in the developing world, which are already vulnerable and food insecure, are likely to be the most seriously affected. In 2005, nearly half of the economically active population in developing countries 2.5 billion people relied on agriculture for its livelihood.

According to Regmi and Adhikari (2007), flood is recognized as a threat to communities which depend more on natural resources such as soil, water and biodiversity. As it is, Nigeria remains vulnerable to the economic, ecological and social impacts of flood since this phenomenon adversely affects various climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture and water resources. Agriculture remains the backbone of the Nigerian economy providing livelihoods for over 80% of the population, and owing to dependence on nature the livelihood security of farmers should be in consideration. Also, water resources are linked to livelihoods and development through drought and flood disasters. Dinar, Hassan, Kurukulasuriya, Benhin, and Mendelsohn (2006), opined that, many African countries, which have their economies largely based on weather-sensitive agricultural productions systems like Nigeria, are particularly vulnerable to flood. And this vulnerability has been demonstrated by the devastating effects of recent flooding in the northern and Niger Delta regions of the country and the various prolonged droughts that are currently witnessed in some parts of northern region. Thus, for many poor countries like Nigeria that are highly vulnerable to effects of flood, understanding farmers‘ responses to climatic variation is crucial.

According to Mertz, Mbow, Reenberg, & Diouf, (2009), the study of coping and adaptive resource management strategies is not new, particularly in the drier regions of West Africa, where a poor and vulnerable population has always dealt with a highly fluctuating natural environment. There are diverging opinions on how well rural populations are dealing with their environmental and economic conditions. Recent studies observed that people in dry land are the most ecologically, socially, and politically marginalized groups lagging behind in most economic and health indices and that flood will be yet another stress factor in a vulnerable system. Moreover, it is argued that the value of local knowledge in flood studies has received little attention. Using agent-based modelling in a vegetable garden system of South Africa, Bharwani, Bithell, Downing, New, Washington, and Ziervogel, (2005) showed that wealthier households benefit more than the poor from weather forecasts and that, subsistence farmers are the most vulnerable to short-lived droughts even if average rains are good.

Previous studies on the impact of flood (particularly rainfall and temperature) and climate related adaptation measures on crop yield are not all encompassing. Long term adaptation was observed in Burkina Faso and Niger, where shifts in farming location between sandy dunes and more clayey pedi-plains and piedmonts were related to precipitation patterns (Reenberg, 1994; Reenberg, Nielsen, and Rasmussen, 1998), whereas short term adaptation coping with the 1997 drought in Burkina Faso caused farm households to implement a range of food saving strategies, encourage migration, sell livestock, and even resorting to borrowing and mortgaging of the following year‘s crops (Roncoli, Ingram, & Kirshen, 2001). In this case, the ramifications of one year‘s drought were felt in the following year in terms of lacking seed and labour for cultivation and it sparked interest in drought resistant varieties, but longer term adaptation measures were not assessed (Roncoli et al., 2001).  In Nigeria, Nabegu (2010) observed that flood induced geomorphological hazards in Kano and Udeh (2014) assessed farmers‘ perception and adaptation strategies to flood in Kano. Also, Abaje, Sawa and Ati (2014) observed climate variability and change, impacts and adaptation strategies in Dutsin-Ma local government area of Katsina State.

From the array of literature available and accessible to the researcher, e.g. (Reenberg, 1994; Reenberg et al., 1998; Roncoli et al., 2001; Nabegu, 2010; Udeh, 2014; Abaje et al., 2014) no study has been conducted on farmers‘ adaptation to flood in Ikara local government area (LGA). This leaves a gap to be filled because Ikara LGA is one of the areas in the northern part of Kaduna with a peculiar dry environment and about 80% of the population are rural farmers expected to be most vulnerable to flood. Consequently, attempt is being made in this study to investigate both long term and short term adaptation strategies being used by farmers towards contributing to knowledge and policy on future adaptation strategies in Ikara LGA and similar areas.

Based on the identified research gap, this study attempts to address the following questions:

i.         What are the socio-economic characteristics of households in Ikara LGA?

ii.      What is the level of awareness of flood of farmers? iii.         How do farmers perceive flood in Ikara LGA? iv.   What have been the adaptation measures to this change? 

      v.              How vulnerable are different households to flood impacts?


The aim of this study is to analyse the perception and adaptation strategies of farmers to flood in Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna State and the objectives are to:

i.         determine the socio-economic characteristics of households in Ikara LGA.

ii.      examine the level of awareness of flood amongst farmers.

iii.     examine farmers‘ perception of flood in the Ikara LGA.

iv.      characterise the adaptation measures of households to flood impact. 

      v.              analyse the vulnerability of households to the impact of flood.


Agricultural adaptation to climate risks is a relatively new field of inquiry (Wall and Smith, 2005). According to Nelson et al., (2009), flood will cause yield declines for the most important crops in developing countries. Flood will have varying effects on irrigated yields across regions of the world. Flood will result in additional price increases for the most important agricultural crops such as rice, wheat, maize, and soybeans.

Indigenous knowledge arises out of continuous experimentation, innovation and adaptation, blending many knowledge systems to solve local problems (United Nations Framework Convention on Flood, (UNFCCC) 2006). Without a comprehensive

understanding of micro-scale indigenous practice evolving macro scale policy interventions would be elusive. 

Flood is a global phenomenon while adaptation is largely site-specific. A common disadvantage for local coping strategies is that they are often not documented, but rather handed down through oral history and local expertise. As site-specific issues require site specific knowledge, experience has shown that identified adaptation measures do not necessarily translate into changes because there are context-specific social, financial, cultural, psychological and physiological barriers to adaptation (IPCC, 2007). It is very important to clearly understand what is happening at community level, because farmers are the most flood vulnerable group.

Riebsame (1988) observed, measuring individuals‘ perceptions and activities can provide insights into how people see and adjust to flood and variability, and such userinformation is relevant when communicating results of climate impact studies and projections of future floods to users. Earlier studies have shown that crop yields are very sensitive to rainfall in northern Nigeria due to the erratic nature of rainfall amounts and distribution (Kowal and Kanabe, 1972; Peacock and Heinrich, 1984; Ekpoh, 1999b). Farmers are also increasingly aware of flood and their particular vulnerability to irregular rainfall. Smallholder farmers in northern Nigeria are highly vulnerable to flood. Many are developing coping strategies independently. However, there remains a need to provide opportunities for sharing successful adaptation strategies with other farmers and to combine this with research to lessen the impact of flood on their livelihoods.


The spatial scope of this study is the ten wards in Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The scope of the study in terms of content is to assess farmers‘ perception and adaptation strategies to flood in Ikara LGA. The targeted populations are the farming community members in Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

The temporal scope of the research is based on a growing season in the study area and number of years the respondents who constituted the sample population indicated a change in climatic conditions during their farming activities as included on the questionnaire. The major research variables include flood and farming activities.

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