Mapping climate change adaptive capacity and vulnerability of smallholder agricultural livelihoods in Central America: ranking and descriptive approaches to support adaptation strategies uri icon


  • Climate change is one of the main threats to rural livelihoods in Central America, especially for small and medium-sized farmers. Climate change vulnerability assessment (CCVA) integrates biophysical and socioeconomic information to support policy decisions. We present a CCVA of agricultural livelihoods of four countries in Central America, at the municipality level. We use the IPCC definition of vulnerability, and address the potential impact of climate change on suitability for major crops and adaptive capacity using indicators of basic human needs, as well as resources for innovation and action framed in a livelihoods approach. Adaptive capacity was estimated using ranking techniques for municipalities and descriptive multivariate analysis. Projected changes in climate suitability for crops show a wide variation between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, and within each country. Cluster analysis of adaptive capacity values shows a gradient between higher values close to urban areas and lower values in agricultural frontier areas and in those prone to drought. Municipalities with a high proportional area under subsistence crops tend to have less resources to promote innovation and action for adaptation. Our results suggest that a full spectrum of adaptation levels and strategies must be considered in the region to achieve different adaptation goals. They also show that the adaptive capacity ranking and characterization are complementary and support geographical prioritization and identification of adaptation strategies, respectively.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017

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