Envisioning adaptive strategies to change: participatory scenarios for agro-pastoral semi-arid systems in Nicaragua

Produced as part of the Adaptation to climate change and human development CCCEP research programme theme

Abstract of Working Paper 38

Historically, the semi-arid socio-ecological systems of dry Centro American corridor have proven resilient to pressures.

In the last century, these systems, however, have experienced huge environmental and socio-economic changes that have increased the vulnerability of local livelihoods to shocks and perturbations.

New approaches are needed to capture complex, uncertain, cross-scale and non-linear relationships between drivers of change and vulnerability.

Therefore, to tackle this challenge, this paper suggests applying a participatory and interdisciplinary methodological framework of vulnerability assessment to a case study in northern Nicaragua.

We triangulated a range of information and data from participatory and scientific research to explore historical and current drivers of changes that affect system’s components and indicators of vulnerability. This was represented in a three dimensional space in terms of ecological resilience, socio-economic individual ability to adapt to change, and institutional capacity to buffer and respond to crisis.

A projection of climate changes, combined with a participatory scenario analysis, helped, then, to heuristically analyse tendencies of vulnerability in the future and to explore which policy options might enhance the system’s adaptive capacity to face new pressures.

This study mainly contributes to the empirical understanding of key factors that influence vulnerability and learning of local strategies to adapt to change in semi-arid agro-pastoral systems in Central America.

The paper also makes a methodological contribution by testing the use of multidimensional vulnerability framework as a way of stimulating discussion between researchers, local stakeholders and policy makers.