(Sauchyn and Santibañez)

Themes 1 and 2 will generate significant understanding of:

(a) the past and present vulnerability of rural agricultural communities and households, the effectiveness of land and water adaptive practices, and the institutional adaptive capacity of governance organizations;

(b) climate impacts on agricultural productivity and environmental services;

(c) adaptation barriers and opportunities; and

(d) scenarios of shifts in regional climate variability and the frequency of extreme events.

This new knowledge will be translated and expressed as a series of quantitative and qualitative indicators of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity (Swanson et al., 2009), enabling an assessment of present and future risk as a function of vulnerability to climate hazards and the probabilities of future departures from climate norms (e.g., drought and excessive moisture) and of extreme events (e.g., intense rainfall). We will derive indices of risk by aggregating the quantitative indicators of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity according to the conceptual framework, consistent with the qualitative indicators, and subject to empirical validation from the local observations of researchers, stakeholders and governance decision makers. The indices of risk will be charted and mapped (using a GIS) to present and illustrate the distribution of risk among livelihoods (e.g., dryland and irrigation agriculture), communities (agricultural and indigenous) and watersheds in the five countries. These concise and detailed data will help guide decision makers’ efforts to formulate policy and programs to reduce vulnerability. Our systematic approach to developing the indices of climate risk will be transferable and applicable to other regions.