Assessing climate change vulnerability and its effects on food security: Testing a new toolkit in Tanzania

Assessing climate change vulnerability and its effects on food security: Testing a new toolkit in Tanzania

Working paper presenting a new toolkit for implementing a participatory vulnerability assessment, using an example pilot study of its use in Tanzania
This CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) working paper presents a new step-by-step toolkit for the implementation of a participatory vulnerability assessment (PVA) in rural localities. The paper does so by introducing the methodology, as well as the findings, from a pilot study in Sokoine, Tanzania, which was based on a participatory methodological approach and follows a multidimensional conceptualisation of social vulnerability to climate change.

The methodology is designed to equip project implementers who have limited resources to assess the occurrence and consequences of climate impacts on local livelihood strategies and food systems. Five dimensions of social vulnerability are included to analyse: livelihood strategies; wellbeing; individual adaptive capacity; collective adaptive capacity; and governance and power relations. Each dimension is deemed to exist on a scale of high to low vulnerability, and are assessed in relation to differentiated access and control by different social groups.

The findings from the pilot study are presented according to these five dimensions, and serve as an example of a field report for anyone who would like to replicate the methodology. It is hoped that this will assist them in understanding local views on how climate change may affect them, what kind of coping strategies are already in place, and how their adaptive capacity can be enhanced through measures that are tailored to the profiles of different local groups.

The paper concludes that the pilot study showed that the toolkit manages to reveal some of the complex relationships between different political, social, and climate-related factors that can explain local-level vulnerability. However, combination and triangulation with other sources of information, derived from different methodological approaches, is key to increase the robustness of the analysis.

Additionally, in order to effectively implement the toolkit, decisions may have to be made which will involve trade-offs between the affordability and quality of the PVA. Users of the methodology therefore need to be critical of how to apply the PVA in their particular context, and take account of the implications of when the vulnerability assessment will take place, how much time will be dedicated to implementing it, the extent to which findings will feed into the planning processes, and how these decisions affect the relationships with the local people. Ultimately, if implemented well, the PVA will save costs in the long term by avoiding project failures, and will help to ensure successful piloting with good local uptake.

[Adapted from source]
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