Adapting smallholder livestock systems to climate change
: an empirical study of village-based water buffalo production and development in the Philippines

  • Jacquelyn Funelas Escarcha

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    The impacts of climate change are observed, and the increasing risks are projected on the smallholder agriculture. While likely to bear the brunt of economic losses and greater livelihood vulnerability, smallholder farmers are the least included in climate change adaptation and related scientific agendas. Despite considerable literature on climate change impacts on agricultural systems, very few studies have been undertaken on livestock, particularly in the context of smallholder production in developing countries. This doctoral research will help bridge this gap by providing empirical knowledge on the extent of climate change impacts to smallholder water buffalo farmers, understanding of their adaptation processes towards climate-resilient livelihood development, and exploring adaptation options to reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

    With a focus on village-based water buffalo production in the province of Nueva Ecija, the Philippines, the study extends beyond the contribution of adaptation practices to the development of climate-resilient livelihoods for the 5 million smallholder farmers in the country. Mixed methods were employed in data collection and analyses using a case study research design, and 30 key informant interviews, as well as 310 household surveys and complementary field observations, were administered across 45 villages in the study area. The theoretical and conceptual elements were drawn from the integrated vulnerability framework and interpretive research paradigm to achieve the aims of the study.

    The findings were presented through four peer-reviewed publications, entitled: 1) Livestock under climate change: a systematic review of impacts and adaptation; 2) Understanding climate change impacts on water buffalo production through farmers’ perceptions; 3) Adaptation to climate change by smallholder dairy buffalo farmers in the Philippines; and 4) Livelihood transformation and climate change adaptation: the case of smallholder buffalo farmers in the Philippines. The research provides clarity on how climate change is viewed from the farmer perspective, how vulnerability is complemented by the adoption of adaptation practices, and how water buffalo ascertained its role in climate-resilient smallholders livelihoods. The research contribution extends beyond the academic field by providing local policymakers with a knowledge base of the practical application of adaptation and smallholders livelihood.
    Date of AwardDec 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorKerstin Zander (Supervisor) & Jonatan Lassa (Supervisor)

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