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Developing a Socioeconomic Vulnerability Index Using two Agricultural Communities Exposed to Climate Change: A Case Study in Wanathawilluwa in Puttlam District of Sri Lanka

Demel, M.S.V., Udayanga, N.W.B.A.L., Gajanayake, B., Hapuarachchi, B. and Perera, D.


The importance of vulnerability and adaptive capacity has been frequently emphasized in explaining the societal aspects of climate change over the last few years. Developments in vulnerability research and consequent adaptation policies, have become a top priority in many countries. With the understanding of the significant importance of agriculture, numerous climate change assessments have been conducted to explore the vulnerability status of agricultural communities, whose livelihood is mostly dependent on natural resources. However, such studies are highly limited in Sri Lanka and the current study was aimed at developing a Socioeconomic Vulnerability Index (SeVI) for two climate change affected agricultural communities in Wanathawilluwa Divisional Secretariat Divisions (DSD) using the concept of “Sustainable Livelihoods Approach” under five specific assets, namely (1) human; (2) social; (3) physical; (4) natural and (5) financial. Fifty households from two Grama-Niladhari Divisions (GN) were surveyed to collect data on three vulnerability dimensions and 17 socioeconomic indicators. The SeVI aggregate was developed as a composite indicator index, where a relative weight was assigned to each indicator with a view of obtaining weighted average index scores. In addition, pentagons were developed for each community by analysing the five assets under 17 indicators. Results suggested that Mangalapura farming community (GN Division) was relatively more vulnerable and most exposed to natural hazards. This study suggests SeVI as a viable approach to assist the policy- makers to identify the most vulnerable communities to climate change and thereby improve the early warning systems. Further, this SeVI can be promoted as a simple but effective tool for comparing socioeconomic vulnerability in hazard prone regions towards climate change.

KEYWORDS: Climate change, Socio-economic vulnerability, Sustainable livelihood approach

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