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Stepping up versus stepping out: on the outcomes and drivers of two alternative climate change adaptation strategies of smallholders

Stepping up versus stepping out: on the outcomes and drivers of two alternative climate change adaptation strategies of smallholders

Islam, Md Mofakkarul, Sarker, Md. Asaduzzaman, Al Mamun, Md. Abdullah, Mamun-ur-Rashid, Md. and Roy, Debashis (2021) Stepping up versus stepping out: on the outcomes and drivers of two alternative climate change adaptation strategies of smallholders. World Development, 148:105671. pp. 1-17. ISSN 0305-750X (doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2021.105671)

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Abstract

Which of the two climate change adaptation strategies – adjusting or improving farming (defined as Stepping Up) versus reducing or exiting farming (defined as Stepping Out) – provides better developmental outcomes for smallholder farmers? Are the drivers of these two strategies different? Do the outcomes and drivers vary according to farmland holding size? We investigated these unanswered questions, inspired primarily by a widespread but unverified suggestion that stepping out of farming can be a better option for smallholders. We utilised recent survey data from over eight hundred smallholder households located in climatic hazard-prone areas in Bangladesh. We applied a holistic Driver-Strategy-Outcome analytical framework and rigorous statistical methods, including index-based data aggregation, and Structural Equation Modelling with ‘mediation’ and ‘moderation’ analyses. Contrary to widespread speculations, we found that Stepping Out had a large negative effect on smallholders’ livelihood Outcomes; while Stepping Up had a moderate, but positive effect. The natural-environmental Drivers of Stepping Up and Stepping Out were similar; however, the psychological-institutional Drivers of each differed, with the same factor acting as a driver for one strategy whilst as a deterrent for the other. We found significant ‘mediatory’ effects of both the adaptation Strategies on Outcomes as well as significant ‘moderation’ effects of farmland holding size on the Drivers and Outcomes, with the positive effect of Stepping Up observed for smallholders owing lands of <2.5 acres only. We call for relevant policies and interventions to exercise caution in promoting smallholders’ exit from agriculture, and to adopt appropriate mitigating measures to manage such a transition. Moreover, smallholder agricultural development initiatives should not discount even the ‘smallest of smallholders’ and support them through ‘diverse and complementary innovations’ as well as ‘tailored’ institutional support services, especially for those living in proximity to hazard hotspots.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Climate change, adaptation, stepping out, farm exit, smallholder farmer, Bangladesh
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Livelihoods & Institutions Department
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 08:56
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/33726

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