14 June, 2024


Smallholder Farmers Vulnerable To Climate Change

By Vositha Wijenayake

Vositha Wijenayake

Vositha Wijenayake

Sri Lanka and its people are feeling impacts of climate change. With changes in rain intensity, floods and with slow onset impacts of climate change such as droughts, as well as increased temperature levels, and impacts of scarcity of water, or losses due to too much water from floods, we feel the daily impacts of climate change.

These impacts increase already existing vulnerabilities, making those communities already impacts due to social and economic hardships to experience additional burdens. A community that is feeling these impacts, and are small holder farmers whose hardships have worsened due increased frequency of flood and droughts. One such example are the farmers living in the Dry Zone of the country.

Impacts on Smallholder Farmers

The variability of the north-east monsoon which supports agriculture in the Dry Zone is evident through the increased number of high rainfall events followed by longer dry spells. Further, rainfall modelling indicate that large areas of the Dry Zone will receive less rainfall in the medium term. These impacts have direct consequences on the Dry Zone farmers. They are ridden with hardships due to lack of water, and the impacts increasing the scarcity creates additional pressure on Dry Zone agricultural households whose lives are already circumscribed by poverty, low incomes, and recovering from three decades of conflict.

The farmers suffer from threats to food security, health and decent livelihood. This is due to decreasing yields in farm fields due to decreased storage capacity, decreased availability of year-round safe drinking water due to longer drought, declining water quality and lack of adequate water storage, as well as increased crop losses and damage to livelihood and assets from severe impacts of climate change.

Need for Village Irrigation Systems

In order to address these issues, there is need to set up village irrigation systems such as small reservoirs to provide necessary water to small holder famers. In providing water resources, one needs to focus as a priority on small holder farmers who are poorer and more vulnerable than their Dry Zone counterparts who have access to major irrigation. In the case of a delay in monsoon or heavy rainfall during the sowing or harvesting period, there is risk for the entire cropping season to be damaged. And for farmers who cultivate under village irrigation systems, the crop from the Maha Season (NEM) is often their main source of income and household food. And in the event of crop damage, these farmers would be losing their main source of income for the year.

The way to address the risk of lacking sufficient water for agriculture would be to look into options of adaptive measures. This could be done through adaptation actions taken in river basins, and working towards providing smallholder farmers living in the river basins water through improved irrigation.

Actions need to be taken to enhance the lives and livelihoods of the smallholder farmers in the Dry Zone whose economic and social vulnerability are increased due to climate impacts on water and food security. Attention needs to be given to addressing these issues of vulnerable communities suffering from extreme weather events, and slow onset impacts of climate change.

Climate Finance for Sri Lanka

In order to address the situation in which the farmers of the Dry Zone live, actions on adaptation need to be taken. And to do this, there needs to be finance allocations for such actions. In brief, there is a need for climate finance in Sri Lanka, and specifically for adaptation based activities in the agricultural sector.

There remain options for climate finance for developing countries such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was set up as an entity under the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The GCF provides funding through direct access to developing countries for projects, programmes, policies and other activities. The funding allocation is to be provided in a balanced manner, for both mitigation as well as adaptation activities. The GCF also caters to both public as well as private finance, and has A target set at raising 100 billion dollars a year by 2020.

It is important that countries such as Sri Lanka, needing financing for adaptation efforts such as issues highlighted are able to access funding from the GCF. It is also important that the vulnerabilities of those impacted by climate change are identified, and their resilience is build. For this, the country needs a grant based financing mechanism which recognises the vulnerabilities, impacts, and that will set up concrete adaptation actions on the ground for effective and efficient actions creating change and benefiting those vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    “Sri Lanka and its people are feeling impacts of climate change. With changes in rain intensity, floods and with slow onset impacts of climate change such as droughts, as well as increased temperature levels”
    The impact of climate change and weather is immense in Vadamarachi East of Sri Lanka. The Point Pedro- Thalayady- Kaddaikaadu Road has detoriated too much and has not been attended. Even the media is not focusing on it. The irrigation system there, is in badly damaged and ruined condition . beautiful beaches, rice fields, ponds, palm groves and mangrove and lagoons are there. Give a fair say and authority to local bodies and involve the Diaspora. It can be converted into a most attractive place in the world for tourism, agriculture and fisheries and conservation of the best bird sanctuaries and habitats.

  • 1

    Vositha Wijenayake

    RE: Smallholder Farmers Vulnerable To Climate Change

    All farmers, especially under capitalized small farmers are very vulnerable to climate change.

    “Further, rainfall modelling indicate that large areas of the Dry Zone will receive less rainfall in the medium term. These impacts have direct consequences on the Dry Zone farmers.”

    This is where the repair of Tanks and irrigation systems become a key.

    If All the ice in the Arctic and Antarctica melts, the sea levels will go up by 213 feet. Will it happen? Will the CO2 levels keep going up?

    This will cause the biggest catastrophe to humans and animals alike. Forget the Noah’s Ark. It is all myth.

  • 1

    Wrote last time when she carried on on this subject, that the changes in climate are as natural as humans breathing, and attempts to control climate are going to be like pissing in the wind.

    But the western media has managed to sell these “shadow enemies” to a generation of Lankans who became mentally enslaved during the helplessness created during the thirty years war.

    This young lady is a classic example.

    To say it again, the Americans created the climate change fear campaign in the 1980s to curb Chinese and Indian moves to industrialise, and to stop them. But China and India were clever enough to ignore this nonsense.

    In Sri Lanka, keeping up with our shameful history of subjugation to the West, the current young generation are buying this bullshit whlesale.

    NGO money, jobs and SUVs make it easier for them to buy our people.

    Vositha, get a life!

  • 1

    IMO, it is too early to focus on the effect of climate change on the yield of agri crops in Sri Lanka. Most of the agri crops in Sri Lanka withstand the change already.

    As you mentioned, most of the farmers in Sri Lanka may be poor, but by their experience they understood their way of cropping. Whether the farmers have capital or not, the consequences of the climate change cannot be intervened even by govt. policy changes.

    Though the climate change in terms of increased rainfall and prolonged dry spells are evident, the effect of temperature on agricultural crops are immense in Sri Lanka at the moment. Still there is a way to grow agricultural crops in to get optimum yield.

    The risk of exploiting groundwater (gw) for the irrigation, never felt immediately, but with time it affects. IMO, during a particular season, there is no abundant surface water (sw) in the tanks to feed crops is due to because we already exploited groundwater. The gw and sw is in balance for all the times, especially for the Dry Zone regions of SL.

    The policies which doesn’t understand the core problem never works, for an example, Climate Finance is not necessary. Providing climate finance wont revoke the effects of climate change.

    IMO, proper awareness and training to tackle the climate change effects in crops is necessary for the farmers, instead of providing this finance terms. Finance is necessary for the R&D.

    Your article is good, thanks for your perception.

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