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Environmental perception and agricultural decision-making: Understanding the heterogeneity of farmers’ agricultural practices in a changing and uncertain environment – Case study from Kilombero Valley, Tanzania

IWRA 2021 Online Conference One Water, One Health
Theme 1: How can we better manage water for food and public health in a changing world?
Author(s): Dr. Britta Höllermann, Dr. Kristian Näschen, Mr. Naswiru Tibanyendela, Mr. Julius Kwesiga, Prof. Dr. Mariele Evers

Dr. Britta Höllermann1, Dr. Kristian Näschen1, Mr. Naswiru Tibanyendela2, Mr. Julius Kwesiga2, Prof. Dr. Mariele Evers1

1. Department of Geography, University of Bonn, Germany
2. INRES, University of Bonn, Germany


Keyword(s): Human-Water-Food-Interaction, Agricultural Practices, Environmental Perception, Smallholder Farmers


The Kilombero Valley wetland is a high-potential agricultural development corridor area in Tanzania. This seasonally flooded wetland is mainly used by smallholder farmers who cultivate during the rainy season, although there are some community-based irrigation systems that reduce hydro-climatic risks. In this study we aim to understand how farmers’ perception of the environment and their aspirations about the future are related to their current agricultural practices and human-water interaction. We specifically investigate the differences between farmers from rainfed and irrigated agriculture by using focus group discussions. Analysis of the
in-depth interviews highlights how farmers’ actions both shape and respond to this highly dynamic and uncertain environment. We find that the heterogeneity of farmers’ agency and hence their ability to cope with change is not only based on the socio-economic status but also on their perception of the physical environment. Aiming at sustainable water management, it is crucial to understand the effects of different visions which translate into a set of agricultural actions shaping the human-water-food system. We thus recommend that attention should also be paid to the capacity for coping with environmental challenges that influences the level of farmers’ aspiration to cover the whole range of farmers’ responses. Acknowledging and understanding this heterogeneity supports in finding tailor-made approaches to better manage water for food in a changing world.

IWRA Proceedings - - Admin