Most smallholder farming areas of Zimbabwe have low soil fertility and low rainfall, which has continually decreased over the past years. In recent years, most of the smallholder farming areas have experienced perennial droughts, poor rainfall distribution and crop failures and these have been attributed to climate change and variability. Cultivation of dambos, which are seasonal wetlands, presents a climate change and variability adaptation option for smallholder farmers. This synthesis analyses the role of dambo cultivation in climate change and variability adaptation and discusses future directions for sustainable dambo utilization. The data on current dambo farming practices were collected from literature, surveys and field observations. The results showed that farmers grow crops in dambos as an adaptive strategy to climate change and variability and have largely abandoned upland fields where yields are less than 1 t ha−1 in preference of dambos where yields average 2–3 t ha−1. Dambo cultivation offers a buffer against crop failures and has resulted in improved household food security. We conclude that dambo cultivation is a potentially beneficial farmer-driven climate change and variability adaptation strategy. However, if not properly designed and managed, dambo cultivation may result in their degradation hence there is need for further research to evaluate options for sustainable dambo utilization as intensification of dambo agriculture is important for food security.
Nyamadzawo, G.; Wuta, M.; Nyamangara, J.; Nyamugafata, P.; Chirinda, N. Optimizing dambo (seasonal wetland) cultivation for climate change adaptation and sustainable crop production in the smallholder farming areas of Zimbabwe. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability (2014) : 1-17. [DOI: 10.1080/14735903.2013.863450]