Exploring the Influence of Smallholders' Perceptions Regarding Water Availability on Crop Choice and Water Allocation Through Socio-Hydrological Modeling

L. Kuil, T. Evans, P. F. McCord, J. L. Salinas, G. Blöschl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

While it is known that farmers adopt different decision-making behaviors to cope with stresses, it remains challenging to capture this diversity in formal model frameworks that are used to advance theory and inform policy. Guided by cognitive theory and the theory of bounded rationality, this research develops a novel, socio-hydrological model framework that can explore how a farmer's perception of water availability impacts crop choice and water allocation. The model is informed by a rich empirical data set at the household level collected during 2013 in Kenya's Upper Ewaso Ng'iro basin that shows that the crop type cultivated is correlated with water availability. The model is able to simulate this pattern and shows that near-optimal or “satisficing” crop patterns can emerge also when farmers were to make use of simple decision rules and have diverse perceptions on water availability. By focusing on farmer decision making it also captures the rebound effect, i.e., as additional water becomes available through the improvement of crop efficiencies it will be reallocated on the farm instead of flowing downstream, as a farmer will adjust his (her) water allocation and crop pattern to the new water conditions. This study is valuable as it is consistent with the theory of bounded rationality, and thus offers an alternative, descriptive model in addition to normative models. The framework can be used to understand the potential impact of climate change on the socio-hydrological system, to simulate and test various assumptions regarding farmer behavior and to evaluate policy interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2580-2604
Number of pages25
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Keywords

  • adaption
  • agriculture
  • modeling
  • smallholder
  • socio-hydrology
  • water scarcity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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