Climate volatility and poverty vulnerability in Tanzania

Climate volatility could change in the future, with important implications for agricultural productivity. For Tanzania, where food production and prices are sensitive to climate, changes in climate volatility could have severe implications for poverty. This study uses climate model projections, statistical crop models, and general equilibrium economic simulations to determine how the vulnerability of Tanzania's population to impoverishment by climate variability could change between the late 20th Century and the early 21st Century. Under current climate volatility, there is potential for a range of possible poverty outcomes, although in the most extreme of circumstances, poverty could increase by as many as 650,000 people due to an extreme interannual decline in grain yield. However, scenarios of future climate from multiple climate models indicate no consensus on future changes in temperature or rainfall volatility, so that either an increase or decrease is plausible. Scenarios with the largest increases in climate volatility are projected to render Tanzanians increasingly vulnerable to poverty through impacts on staple grains production in agriculture, with as many as 90,000 additional people entering poverty on average. Under the scenario where precipitation volatility decreases, poverty vulnerability decreases, highlighting the possibility of climate changes that oppose the ensemble mean, leading to poverty impacts of opposite sign. The results suggest that evaluating potential changes in volatility and not just the mean climate state may be important for analyzing the poverty implications of climate change.