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Integrated assessment of smallholder farming’s vulnerability to drought in the Brazilian Semi-arid: a case study in Ceará

Abstract

Smallholder farming is among the most vulnerable sectors due to its great social and economic sensitivity. Despite future climate change, current climate variability is already an issue of concern that justifies adaptation efforts. In Brazil, the Semi-Arid Region is a climate hotspot, well known for both historic socioeconomic setbacks, and agriculture failures caused by dry spells and severe droughts. In 2010, the Brazilian government enacted the National Policy on Climate Change, which states as one of its key goals the identification of vulnerabilities and the adoption of adequate measures of adaptation to climate change. The improvement of vulnerability assessment tools is a response to the growing demand of decision makers for regular information and indicators with high spatial and temporal resolution. This article aims at undertaking a comparative assessment of smallholder farming’s vulnerability to droughts. An integrated assessment system has been developed and applied to seven municipalities located in the Brazilian Semi-Arid Region (within the State of Ceará). Results show regional vulnerability contrasts driven by institutional and socioeconomic factors, beyond climatic stressors.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to express their gratitude to Suely Salgueiro Chacon, Cristine Viana, and two anonymous reviewers and editors for the comments on an earlier version. Special thanks to Joana Araújo Maria for assistance and encouragement. The work reported here was undertaken within the Brazilian Research Network on Global Climate Change, supported by the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology.

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Correspondence to Diego Pereira Lindoso.

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This article is part of a Special Issue on “Climate change and adaptation in tropical basins” edited by Pierre Girard, Craig Hutton, and Jean-Phillipe Boulanger.

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Lindoso, D.P., Rocha, J.D., Debortoli, N. et al. Integrated assessment of smallholder farming’s vulnerability to drought in the Brazilian Semi-arid: a case study in Ceará. Climatic Change 127, 93–105 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-014-1116-1

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Keywords

  • Adaptive Capacity
  • Standardize Precipitation Index
  • Vulnerability Index
  • Smallholder Farming
  • Palmer Drought Severity Index