Adapting to climate change in Andean ecosystems: Landscapes, capitals, and perceptions shaping rural livelihood strategies and linking knowledge systems

Corinne Valdivia, Anji Seth, Jere L. Gilles, Magali García, Elizabeth Jiménez, Jorge Cusicanqui, Fredy Navia, Edwin Yucra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the Bolivian Altiplano, indigenous systems for dealing with weather and climate risk are failing or being lost as a result of migration, climate change, and market integration. Andean rural communities are particularly vulnerable to changing social and environmental conditions. Changing climate over the past forty years and current forecast models point to increasing temperatures and later onset of rains during the growing season. Current meteorological models are coarse grained and not well suited to the complex topology of the Andes-so local-scale information is required for decisions. This article outlines a process for developing new local knowledge that can be used to enhance adaptive processes. This is a three-step process that includes assessment of local knowledge, the development of future scenarios, and the use of participatory research methods to identify alternative adaptation strategies. Initial analyses based on the survey of 330 households in nine communities indicate that northern Alitplano communities are more vulnerable than central Altiplano ones. In both areas, losses from climate shocks are high, but the types of hazards vary by location. The use of local knowledge indicators of climate is declining, and downscaling of climate forecasts is unlikely to occur due to the lack of data points and the large number of microclimates. Participatory mapping and research, where knowledge is shared, are processes that enhance adaptive capacity and are critical to building resilience. This article outlines a strategy for linking science-based and indigenous methods to develop early warning systems that are an important part of coping strategies. This approach combines science and indigenous knowledge to enhance adaptive capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)818-834
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Volume100
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Climatechange
  • Knowledgesystems
  • Livelihoods
  • Mapping

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