Preparing for, coping with and bouncing back after shocks. A nuanced resilience assessment for smallholder farms and farmers in Northern Ghana

  • Mirja Michalscheck (Creator)
  • Fred Kizito (Creator)
  • Bekele Kotu (Creator)
  • Franklin Avornyo (Creator)
  • Carl Timler (Creator)
  • Jeroen Groot (Creator)



Smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana regularly face shocks, challenging the sustainability of their farms and livelihoods. Different farm households and household members may be differently affected and respond with different coping strategies. We combined whole-farm modelling and farmer consultations to investigate the vulnerability, buffer and adaptive capacity of three farm types in Northern Ghana towards severe climate, economic and social shocks. We further assessed intra-household differences in respective risk mitigation and coping strategies. Our model results indicate that the drought shock would most severely affect all farm types, drastically reducing their operating profits and soil organic matter balance. The medium resource endowed farm was most affected by shocks, but all farm types could enhance their capacity to recover by adopting technology packages for sustainable intensification. Gendered coping strategies included livestock sales, post-harvest storage, activating social networks, rice processing and the collection, processing and sales of wild nuts and fruits. Farmers reported to aim at becoming more resilient by increasing their herd size and expanding their farmland, thereby risking to increase rather than reduce the pressure on natural resources. New questions arise concerning the carrying capacity of local ecosystems and resilience at community and landscape level.
Date made available15 Aug 2023
PublisherWageningen University & Research


  • Ecology
  • FOS: Biological sciences
  • Science Policy
  • Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified

Cite this