When I began the work on my master’s thesis, “climate change” was the new buzz word in the development world. Donors wanted to give money to climate change adaptation, and development agencies were starting to think about how the communities they were working with would be affected by climate change and how they could start to build resilience against these challenges.
Current climate predictions are developed at scales too coarse to use for community development programs. Additionally, organizations like CARE need information not just about exposure to climatic variability, but also about a community’s current capacity to respond and adapt to changes in timing or intensity of rainfall, temperature, or natural disasters.
I worked with CARE in Mozambique to develop the Livelihood Vulnerability Index (LVI), a multi-component index that quantifies the vulnerability of household livelihoods to climate variability and change at the district level. I used the LVI to estimate the differential impacts of climate change in two districts in Mozambique. The LVI uses multiple indicators to assess exposure to natural disasters and climate variability, social and economic characteristics of households that affect their adaptive capacity, and current health, food, and water resource characteristics that determine their sensitivity to climate change impacts.
This approach differs from previous methods in that it uses data from household surveys to construct the index. The study also provides a framework for aggregating indicators and displaying them visually in a spider diagram.
The LVI components can be modified to meet the needs of the communities you are working with, and in fact, the LVI is meant to be used as a framework for developing a locally-adapted index. You can read the details of the Mozambique study in Global Environmental Change. Information on household sampling, interviewer training, and survey instruments can be found in appendices of my thesis document.