Drought causes many problems in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, a province in west of Iran. It threatens the farmers’ life and caused negative social and economic impacts on society. As a response, some adaptation measures were proposed, however social acceptance of the proposed measures became a problem. The objective of this study is to measure the social acceptance of proposed adaptation measures. To assess the social acceptance a structured questionnaire survey was conducted and a multistage stratified systematic sampling technique was used to select 386 households. A five point Likert scale was also used and the aggregate reliability of Likert type items for 23 items was confirmed by Cronbach’s alpha, α=0.83. Results show that level of social acceptance is the highest in Saman and the lowest in Kouhrang district. Level of social acceptance is lower in Farsan and Kouhrang which are located in the high rainfall region. Result of Kolmogorov-Smirnov test shows that distribution of social acceptance values is not normal. Results of Kruskal-Wallis test show that there is a significant difference between the levels of social acceptance in 9 districts (H=199.019, 8 d.f., P=0).
Keywords: Social acceptance; Agriculture; Drought management; Policy; Assessment
Long lasted droughts have threatened the sustainable development of Middle East countries. Meteorological drought can be defined as a situation when rainfall is less than 75% of the normal over an area. This climatic phenomenon has a wide range of impacts on society especially on farmers. Drought is also a common problem in most parts of Iran. Water shortage, population migration and unemployment are some of the negative impacts of drought in provinces like Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari. Farmers and nomads are vulnerable to drought in this province although their vulnerability varies from place to place. As an adaptation response, public administrative institutions have proposed a range of policies and adaptation measures. Adaptation is defined as follows: ‘actions taken in response to current and future climate change impacts and vulnerabilities (as well as to the climate variability in the absence of climate change) in the context of ongoing and expected socioeconomic developments, it involves not only preventing negative impacts of climate change, but also building resilience and making the most of any benefits it may bring’ . Findings show that adaptation process could be limited by societal factors that have not been adequately taken into account in academic research . Antle believes that as drought will have a major negative impact on agriculture, farmers will need to make decisions in a more difficult environment, however, these decisions and resources for making them also depend on decision makers and national policy . Building adaptive capacity, enhancing knowledge generation, and the dissemination and facilitation of mainstreaming are among the initiatives aimed at making climate change adaptation operational .
Social acceptance is, importantly, a concept that relates to the good performance of policy implementations . Proposed drought adaptation policies in this province include the land use restrictions, water management policies and crop management. Establishing the farming restrictions typically benefits society at large while affecting some farmers negatively. It seems that positive impacts of restriction tend to be spread out over a wide group of persons and can also be realized over a long time period, while the negative impacts are more likely to be held by a small group of people and affecting them immediately at the introduction of the area [4-6].
Because of incompatible objectives between individuals and society at large, a central concern during the implementation of such policies is often how to attend to this social dilemma .
Acceptability of current practices, predicts acceptability of proposed practices, and understands the reasons for failures to achieve acceptability . Thomassin, et al. gives a definition of the concept of social acceptability as follows; “a measure of support towards a set of regulations, management tools or towards an organization by an individual or a group of individuals based on geographic, social, economic and/or cultural criteria” .
Acceptability rests on values; an analysis of acceptability would also have to include an examination of beliefs and practices and then an analysis of how they fit together .
Schuitema and Jakobsson Bergstad finds that social acceptability of a policy can be defined as either positive or negative attitudes towards it, or certain behavior resisting the policy . Policy acceptability or support should be measured while respondents are aware of the actual consequences of the policy at hand and the mechanisms involved .
Acceptability is said to be reflected by behaviors rather than simply by attitudes toward a practice or condition, although it is understood that behaviors are usually stimulated by attitudes. It is generally not observable, but rather something that must be inferred from the absence of overt behavior indicating a failure to achieve it .
Social acceptability can change over time, e.g. an initial resistance can transform into support during the course of time if positive effects are experienced by opponents .
Social acceptability results from a judgmental process by which individuals (1) compare the perceived reality with its known alternatives; and (2) decide whether the “real” condition is superior, or sufficiently similar, to the most favorable alternative condition . Peters et al, discussed that social acceptance is the result of a process in which the concerned stakeholders jointly construct the sufficient conditions so that a project can be integrated harmoniously at a certain time in to a natural and human environment .
While both acceptability and acceptance are reportedly based more on attitudes, and are therefore passive, support comprises a behavioral component as well . At least three inseparable elements make up the stakeholders’ perception of an impact; together these elements function as a prism mapping impacts to the cost/benefit relationship. These three elements include credibility, culture and knowledge . Mapping the opinions of farmers can also expose important cultural factors that are significant in order to understand adaptation processes in agriculture .
Brewster et al suggest that both how the individual feels about performing the action and how others nearby perceive the users’ actions need to be investigated as to determine social acceptance . Generally speaking, social acceptance refers to how policy goals and implementations correspond to citizen or stakeholder conceptions about legitimate policies and policy practices . However, different barriers for social acceptance (such as beliefs about the estimated negative effects of a policy) may exist among citizens; overcoming these barriers and creating favorable conditions for mitigation and adaptation is, thus, a social process .
To study of a case, specifying contexts becomes the initial and important step for understanding the acceptability of management practices; a second step in understanding the acceptability of management practices is to investigate people’s values; a third step should be an investigation of the level of knowledge that people have about the practices; a fourth step is the attribution of purpose for the proposed practices; the last important step needed is to research the character of the potential acceptor .
Some studies were focused on social acceptance of drought impacts and administrative adaptation measures. A review shows that researchers have used different methods to assess the social acceptance of drought impacts and administrative adaptation measures. Habiba et al., Manandhar et al., Ashraf and Routray and Keshavarz et al., have used the questionnaire while others like Udmale et al., and Pollard et al., have used a mixture of focus group, interview and scenario analysis technique to assess the social acceptance of agricultural policies, farmers’ perception and understanding of drought [20-25]. European commission also developed a set of indicators of social dimensions of sustainable agriculture including indicators on employment, indicators on institutional efficiency and indicators on access to resources/ services and opportunities, indicators on equal opportunities, labor conditions and animal welfare indicators which can be applied as social acceptance criteria . A large number of researches have used these methods and indicators. For example Abdullah and Sulaiman have used these methods to investigate the relationship between attitude, knowledge, acceptance and youth interest in agricultural entrepreneurship . Wüstenhagen et al. conceive social acceptance as consisting of three dimensions: sociopolitical acceptance, community acceptance and market acceptance . Specht et al., have worked on dimensions of socially acceptable urban agriculture businesses . Doornbos, Shinohara, Kuyvenhoven et al., and Dubois et al., have also discussed the variables affecting the social acceptance of technologies for sustainable farming during an OECD workshop in Wageningen . D’Silva, et al. have developed a framework for assessing the acceptance of sustainable agriculture among contract farming entrepreneurs . Udmale et al., assessed the farmers’ perception of drought impacts in Maharashtra, India . Pollard et al., have also studied the social acceptance of urban aquacultures . A review of the conducted researches shows that studies in this field are growing which indicates the importance of adoption of adaptation.
In this study, social acceptance at a community level or community acceptance can be addressed as a combination of attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and local culture (Figure 1).
Lack of social acceptance can emerge as a significant barrier to climate change adaptation, and social acceptance can therefore be considered an important determinant in the failure or success of adaptation policies .
Researchers employed different measurement tools to gather the information and assess the social acceptance such as interview, questionnaire, direct and indirect observation, focus groups and scenario analysis . In this study questionnaire technique was adopted for the purpose of gathering information from respondents. The questionnaire has four main sections of the questions. The first section aimed to extract the attitudes about drought management measures. The second section is meant to know beliefs about drought and its impacts on farming. The third section identifies the level of satisfaction of farmers regarding the knowledge dissemination. The forth section is focused on the importance of local culture in social acceptance.
The questionnaire was designed in consultation with a panel of experts according to the previously reported farmers’ problems, proposed adaptation measure and earlier studies. The questionnaire then was pre-tested with 8 farmers from three villages to check the possible problems. The questionnaire was then revised based on results and replies. These volunteers then omitted from the final sample.
The final questionnaire included 23 closed questions. Of them 12 question were used to assess the farmers’ attitude towards the adaptation measures, three questions to assess beliefs, three questions to assess knowledge and five questions to assess the local culture.
A structured questionnaire survey was conducted in 9 districts of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province during February 2018. A farming household was considered as a sampling unit. A multistage stratified sampling technique was used to select samples from the farmers’ society (districts as a cluster and household as final unit). The list of settlements and population data obtained from administrative organizations. In the first stage, the settlements were selected by probability proportional to size technique and in the second stage households were chosen from selected settlements by random walk sampling technique. Cochran’s sample size determination formula was used to calculate minimum sample size of 382, although finally 386 households were included in the survey. Considering the population proportion in all nine districts 38, 43, 20, 8, 55, 31, 38, 48 and 105 were selected from districts respectively from 36 settlements. The response rate was almost 100%.
The PASW SPSS 22 was used to process and analysis the primary data. A five point Likert scale (1 for strongly disagree to 5 for strongly agree) was used to code the responses to the close ended questions. The aggregate reliability of Likert type items for 23 items was confirmed by Cronbach’s alpha, α=0.83. However in case of Likert type for attitude (12 items), beliefs (3 items), knowledge (3 items) and local culture (5 items), Cronbach’s alpha was 0.62-0.87-0.67-0.62. It is common to get low Cronbach’s alpha with the few scale items. Mean inter-item correlation of these items was also calculated as 0.21, 0.7, 0.4 and 0.24 to check the reliability of Likert type items, (a range of 0.2-0.4 is acceptable).
Descriptive statistics was also used to assess the level of social acceptance, beliefs, knowledge and farmers’ local culture. Data were analyzed using non parametric testing Kruskal-Wallis H-test (for comparison of 9 groups with multiple variables) at 5% significance level .
Social acceptance levels
Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province with a total area of 16532 square kilometers is located in the southwest of Iran. It is mainly a mountainous region. Of the total population of the province, 58.2% lived in urban areas and 41.8% in rural areas (Figure 2).
It receives average annual rainfall of 1400 mm and 300 mm in the upper and lower reaches .The rainfall zones are shown in Figure 3. More than three fourth of irrigation water comes from groundwater. Eastern areas of this province frequently suffer from droughts and water scarcity. There are nine prominent district areas, namely Ardal, Ben, Boroujen, Saman, Farsan, Kiar, Kouhrang, Shahrekord and Lordegan. Agriculture is the main land use in eastern, central and southern areas whereas western regions are covered with forests and rangelands. Nomads mainly settled in the western highlands.
In this survey the sample size was 386 respondents and average age of the respondent was 39 years. Respondents aged 18 years above. For 72% of respondents crop farming is the only source of income. To gather the initial data, designed questions covered the following themes:
• The perceived drought and water shortage situation
• The perceived need for restrictions on land and water use and policies of drought management
• Perception of farmers about the ability of administrative organization to provide knowledge, information and education assistance
• Local culture of farmers in response to drought.
Table 1 shows the distribution of questionnaires based on the population proportion of nine districts.
|District||Farmers’ population||Proportion||Number of respondents|
Table 1: respondents in different districts.
Social acceptance level was calculated as mean of Likert type responses to all cases. This method was also used for assessing the level of attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and local culture in 9 districts. The Kolmogorov–Smirnov test was used in order to test the normality of distribution of social acceptance values.
Table 2 shows the results. According to the results, Sig value is less than 0.05, which means distribution of values is not normal (Table 3).
aLilliefors Significance Correction
Table 2: Test of normality results.
|Strongly disagree||Disagree||Neither agree nor disagree||Agree||Strongly agree|
|Attitudes||Ground water extraction should be stopped.||89||128||13||104||52|
|Rainfed farming in high sloping lands should be prohibited.||107||135||8||73||45|
|Ground water extraction should be decreased.||106||103||7||81||89|
|Farming in non-fertile land should be prohibited.||72||114||19||97||84|
|Agricultural water transfer methods should be improved.||64||113||13||85||111|
|Watershed management should be improved to secure water supply.||57||71||15||116||127|
|I am willing to spend more to improve irrigation efficiency.||87||101||23||87||88|
|Use of sewage effluent for irrigation should be developed.||93||137||10||86||60|
|A rigorous water pricing system should be established.||86||120||19||84||77|
|Farmers had to diversify their crops.||64||108||11||98||105|
|Farmers had to plant drought resilient crops.||79||110||11||91||95|
|No new wells should be drilled.||78||115||11||99||83|
|Beliefs||Agricultural water management is essential.||39||82||18||111||136|
|The risk of drought remains high.||36||81||10||126||133|
|The risk of water scarcity will increase.||53||60||1||136||136|
|Knowledge||Governmental institutions are successful in delivering the services to farmers||37||122||5||107||115|
|Governmental institutions are successful in disseminating agricultural information to farmers||46||78||12||157||93|
|Governmental institutions are successful in farmers’ education and training.||53||94||11||126||102|
|Local culture||Modern farming methods should be replaced with current methods||47||60||8||190||81|
|I decide about the government proposals independently of the other farmers.||62||97||4||84||139|
|Drought resistant crops may be profitable.||18||71||12||130||148|
|The other crops may be more profitable.||46||70||13||115||142|
|Farmers should reduce their water use.||39||76||20||120||131|
Table 3: Overview of the survey results (n=386).
Table 4 shows the level of social acceptance in districts. As it can be seen in Figure 4 level of social acceptance is the highest in Saman and the lowest in Kouhrang district.
|District||Attitudes||Beliefs||Knowledge||Local culture||Social acceptance|
Table 4: Results of calculated levels of social acceptance.
It is not surprising that level of social acceptance of drought management measures is lower in Farsan and Kouhrang which are located in the high rainfall region.
Farmers of Farsan and Kouhrang districts did not accept the drought management measure whereas the other farmers accepted them. Farmers of Kiar district were neutral to the current policies.
To understand if there is a significant difference between the replies from the farmers in the different districts, Kruskal–Wallis test was used. Since measurement variable does not meet the normality assumption of a one-way Anova, we used the Kruskal–Wallis test (Table 5).
Table 5: Result of Kruskal–Wallis test.
According to results, there is a significant difference between the levels of social acceptance in 9 districts (H=199.019, 8 d.f., P=0); the mean ranks of social acceptance are significantly different among the nine districts. The null hypothesis states that the social acceptance medians for these districts are all equal. Because Asymp. Sig. is less than the significance level of 0.05; we reject the null hypothesis and conclude that the medians are not all equal.
Descriptive statistics were also calculated for social acceptance. Assuming 1 as over rejection, 2 as covert rejection, 3 as indifferent, 4 as overt acceptance and 5 as covert acceptance, the calculated mean of social acceptance in provincial scale (3.23) indicates an overt acceptance of drought management measures by farmers (Table 6).
|Valid N (listwise)||386|
Table 6: Descriptive Statistics of social acceptance at provincial level.
Pie charts were also used to compare the survey results in 9 districts (Figure 5).
The charts are divided into three parts which shows the ration of respondents. In Ben and Saman all respondents have accepted the measures while in Kouhrang which is the main settlement of Bakhtiari nomads 97% have rejected the adaptation measures.
At a provincial scale, of 386 respondents 31.8% (123 respondents) have rejected the drought management measures, 3 respondents were neutral and 67.3% (260 respondents) have accepted them (Table 7).
Table 7: Number of respondents who accept the proposed measures.
Usually attitude portrays either positive or negative views of a person, place, thing or an event . Attitude can also be defined as a mental and neural state of exerting readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individuals regards to all objectives and situation with it is related. Human beings are said to have stable sets of attitudes . Attitude also has the potential to play an important role in influencing acceptance of sustainable agriculture. It is generally believed that those having a positive attitude towards sustainable agriculture will readily accept this system . Samah, et al. had also identified that the relationship between attitude and farming methods is positively significant .
Figure 6 shows the calculated levels of component of attitudes towards drought management measures. As it is illustrated, farmers of Boroujen, Farsan, Kouhrang, Kiar and Lordegan have not an overall positive attitude towards the adaptation measures. At a provincial scale, 191 respondents (49.4%) have negative attitudes. The calculated mean of attitudes in provincial scale (2.95) indicates an overall negative attitude toward drought management measures (Table 8).
|Valid N (listwise)||386|
Table 8: Descriptive Statistics of attitudes.
While knowledge, and attitude are important factors that are related toward the acceptance of sustainable agriculture, another significant factor is the belief farmers possess toward sustainable agriculture . When the farming community believes that sustainable agriculture will bring much benefit to them, it will lead towards enhancing their acceptance on sustainable agriculture .
Farmers’ beliefs about droughts, water scarcity and water supply problems affects social acceptance of proposed drought manage measures.
Figure 7 shows the level of beliefs in nine districts. As it is illustrated, in most districts, scores calculated for beliefs are higher than the scores calculated for the other components. It can be interpreted as the severity of droughts and its impacts in this province. Calculated scores for beliefs are lower in Kouhrang and Farsan districts which receive the highest annual rainfall. It is also higher in Saman, Boroujen, Ben and Lordegan districts (Figure 8).
Table 9 represents the overall mean of all beliefs’ scores as 3.6. It indicates that farmers believed in droughts and its destructive impacts. Of 386 respondents, 108 (27.9%) did not believed in droughts and its destructive impacts, 11 (2%) were neutral and 267 (69.1%) believed in droughts and its impacts.
|Valid N (listwise)||386|
Table 9: Descriptive Statistics of beliefs.
D’Silva proved that there exists a significant relationship between acceptance and knowledge . Besides, according to Asenso-Okyere, et al. if the necessary knowledge pertaining to success farming practices were transferred to the farming community, it will propel towards the implementation of many innovation projects in the agriculture sector and through these innovations it will enhance productivity, competitiveness, and the welfare of the farming community . These views were in line with what have been stated by Etling and Barbuto that stressed on the importance of knowledge as a mechanism to develop potential sustainable farming entrepreneurs [38,42].
Administrative organizations and public institutions are involved in making policies to manage drought impacts through adaptation measures. They can facilitate the agricultural drought adaptation process by transferring the knowledge to society, providing public information and education. Knowledge can lead to more skills to youth as a preparation to establish their own agricultural business . Of 386 respondents 119 (30.8%) have a negative opinion about knowledge transfer, providing public information and education, 24 (6.2%) were neutal and 243 (62.9%) have a positive opinion.
Table 10 represents the calculated mean of all knowledge scores as 3.38. It indicates that there is a relatively overall positive atmosphere about knowledge transfer, knowledge sharing, providing public information and public education.
|Valid N (listwise)||386|
Table 10: Descriptive Statistics of knowledge.
Calculated scores for knowledge are lower in Kouhrang and Farsan districts and higher in Saman, Boroujen and Ben (Figure 9).
Culture is the social behavior and norms found in human societies [44,45]. Local culture recognizes that people’s daily knowledge comes from shared life experiences and information transmitted to them by family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. People create and share local culture as part of their lives in specific places-urban and rural. The common factor is place, yet each discipline investigates place in a different way1 [46-48]. To assess the farmers’ local culture, five questions were designed. Of 386 respondents 85 (22%) have not culturally accepted the proposed measures, 24 (6.2%) were neutral and 277 (71.7%) have accepted them [49-51] (Table 11).
|Valid N (listwise)||386|
Table 11: Descriptive Statistics of local culture.
At a district level, calculated scores for local culture are lower in Kouhrang and Farsan districts and higher in Saman, Boroujen and Ben.
Drought is a serious challenge in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province. Droughts along with water mismanagement especially in agriculture sector threats the local sustainable development. To deal with this emerging problem some adaptation policies and measures was recommended by local public institutions. These measures were designed and selected according to the reported problems of agricultural sector. Farmers have different reactions to the same propositions. In some districts they accept them and in some districts they reject them. Assessing the social acceptance of drought management measures can help the planners and decision makers while designing and formulating policies for better drought adaptation measures and community resilience. In this paper to assess the social acceptance of the proposed policies and measures a survey was conducted using closed questionnaire. In order to have a better illustration, extracted qualitative data from questionnaire translated to the quantitative figures. Findings show that policies were moderately accepted in two thirds of districts. Only in Kouhrang, Farsan and Kiar districts, farmers mostly rejected the propositions. However it should be noted that farmers of Kouhrang and Farsan received the highest average rainfall and farmers of Kiar district enjoys rich groundwater resources. The highest level of social acceptance was measured in Saman (4.15 of a range of 1-5) and the lowest in Kouhrang as (2.21). This analytical information can help the decision makers and planners to have a better image about the barriers of drought adaptation and also can be used as a base to modify current programs.