Factors influencing households’ vulnerability to desertification in rural communities of Northern Katsina, Nigeria
Rural livelihood and economic development in northern Nigeria has been characterised by the devastating effects of desertification. This paper provides an avenue to examine the peculiar factors influencing vulnerability to desertification among farm households of rural communities in desertification prone areas of Katsina State. Data was collected from both primary and secondary sources. A systematic random sampling technique was employed to select 633 respondents in 18 rural communities from the six local government areas chosen for the study. The research instruments used were questionnaire, key informant interview and focus group discussion. Findings revealed that 93% of the respondents were from male-headed farm households, 71% were above 45 years of age and 80% have no basic primary education. Millet was the most important crop grown and 73% were full time farmers. The main perceived causes of desertification are climate change, deforestation, acts of God and environmental mismanagement. Effects of desertification were manifested in declining crop yields, loss of farmlands as well as the extinction of flora and fauna species. The factors influencing vulnerability of farm households to desertification were the ages of household heads, farming status, size of the households, access to non-farm income, migration and improved seed varieties (p < 0.05). The study, therefore, recommended the need to promote adult education, increase access to improved seed varieties and farm input, encourage livelihood diversification, intensified efforts towards effective management of environmental resources, and the involvement of vulnerable groups in the formulation and implementation of policies aimed at combating desertification.