Skip to main content
Log in

Learning from experience: a systematic review of assessments of vulnerability to drought

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Natural Hazards Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

In the last decades, there have been an increasing number of vulnerability studies undertaken in the frameworks of several schools of thought and disciplines. This spur of activity is linked to the growing awareness about the importance of shifting from a crisis-reactive approach to a proactive and preventive risk management approach to deal with natural disasters. The severity of the impacts that drought provokes worldwide has also contributed to raise awareness about the need to improve its management. In this context, drought vulnerability assessments are the first step in the identification of underlying causes that generate drought impacts. This paper presents a systematic review of past assessments of vulnerability to drought, to enhance the understanding of vulnerability and help orientating future research in this field. Results suggest that there are important geographical and thematic gaps to be filled in the assessment of drought vulnerability. Transparency in the design and validation of results should be improved, while the availability of relevant, reliable, and updated data is still a major constraint at all levels.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations(FAO), in collaboration with a number of partners.

  2. Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) is a specialized library of systematic reviews.

  3. http://www.emdat.be/database.

  4. Some risk assessment studies (e.g., Blauhut et al. 2015) combine data about past drought impacts with hazard measurement in order to assess drought risk. This is a quite new approach that, contrary to traditional risk assessments, does not include a vulnerability assessment sensu stricto.

References

  • Abraham J (2006) Assessing drought vulnerability. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Arizona

  • Adepetu AA, Berthe A (2007) Vulnerability of rural Sahelian Households to Drought: options for adaptation a final report. Submitted to Assessments of Impacts and Adaptations to Climate Change (AIACC), Project No. AF 9, The International START Secretariat Washington, USA

  • Adger WN (2006) Vulnerability. Glob Environ Change 16(3):268–281

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alcamo J, Acosta-Michlik L, Carius A, Eierdanz F, Klein R et al (2008) A new approach to quantifying and comparing vulnerability to drought. Reg Environ Change 8(4):137–149

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Antwi-Agyei P, Fraser ED, Dougill AJ, Stringer LC, Simelton E (2012) Mapping the vulnerability of crop production to drought in Ghana using rainfall, yield and socioeconomic data. Appl Geogr 32(2):324–334

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Assimacopoulos D, Kampragkou E, Andreu J, Bifulco C, De Carli A, De Stefano L et al (2014) Future drought impact and vulnerability—case study scale. DROUGHT-R&SPI Technical Report No. 20

  • Belal AA, El-Ramady HR, Mohamed ES, Saleh AM (2014) Drought risk assessment using remote sensing and GIS techniques. Arabian J Geosci 7(1):35–53

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bhattacharya S, Das A (2007) Vulnerability to drought, cyclones and floods in India. European Commission BASIC project, BASIC project paper, 9

  • Birkmann J (2006) Measuring vulnerability to promote disaster-resilient societies: conceptual frameworks and definitions. In: Birkmann J (ed) Measuring vulnerability to natural hazards: towards disaster resilient societies. UNU Press, Hong Kong, pp 9–54

    Google Scholar 

  • Birkmann J, Wisner B (2006) Measuring the un-measurable. The challenge of vulnerability. UNU-EHS, Bonn

    Google Scholar 

  • Blaikie P, Cannon T, Wisner B (1994) At risk: natural hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters. Routledge, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Blauhut V, Gudmundsson L, Stahl K (2015) Towards pan-European drought risk maps: quantifying the link between drought indices and reported drought impacts. Environ Res Lett 10(1):14008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brooks N, Adger N, Kelly MP (2005) The determinants of vulnerability and adaptive capacity at the national level and the implications for adaptation. Global Environ Change 15(2):151–163

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chandrasekar K, Sai MS, Roy P, Jayaraman V, Krishnamoorthy R (2009) Identification of agricultural drought vulnerable areas of Tamil Nadu, India using gis-based multi criteria analysis. Asian J Environ Disaster Manage 1(1):40–61

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cheng J, Tao JP (2010) Fuzzy comprehensive evaluation of drought vulnerability based on the analytic hierarchy process—an empirical study from Xiaogan City in Hubei Province. Agric Agric Sci Procedia 1:126–135

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Colorado Water Conservation Board CWCB (2010) Drought vulnerability assessment technical information. Annex B to the Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan. Department of Natural Resources, Colorado

  • Costa L, Kropp JP (2013) Linking components of vulnerability in theoretic frameworks and case studies. Sustain Sci 8(1):1–9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cutter SL, Boruff BJ, Shirley WL (2003) Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Soc Science Q 84(2):242–261

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cutter SL, Emrich CT, Webb JJ, Morath D (2009) Social vulnerability to climate variability hazards: a review of the literature. University of South Carolina, Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, Department of Geography, Columbia

    Google Scholar 

  • De Stefano L, González Tánago I, Ballesteros M, Urquijo J et al (2015) Methodological approach considering different factors influencing vulnerability—pan-European scale. DROUGHT-R&SPI Technical Report No. 26

  • Deems HJ (2010) Vulnerability of rural communities in the Mediterranean region to climate change and water scarcity: the case of Cyprus. Master thesis, University of Barcelona

  • Derbile EK (2013) Reducing vulnerability of rain-fed agriculture to drought through indigenous knowledge systems in north-eastern Ghana. Int J Clim Change Strateg Manag 5(1):71–94

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Downing TE, Bakker K (2000) Drought discourse and vulnerability. In: Wilhite DA (ed) Drought: a global assessment, natural hazards and disasters series, chap 45. Routledge Publishers, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Eriksen SH, Kelly PM (2007) Developing credible vulnerability indicators for climate adaptation policy assessment. Mitig Adapt Strateg Global Change 12(4):495–524

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fekete A, Damm M, Birkmann J (2010) Scales as a challenge for vulnerability assessment. Nat Hazards 55(3):729–747

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Flörke M, Wimmer F, Laaser C, Rodrigo R, Tröltzsch J, Dworak T et al (2011) Final report for the project climate adaptation-modelling water scenarios and sectoral impacts. Contract No. DG ENV.D.2/SER/2009/0034

  • Fontaine MM, Steinemann AC (2009) Assessing vulnerability to natural hazards: impact-based method and application to drought in Washington state. Nat Hazards Rev 10(1):11–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ford JD, Pearce T (2010) What we know, do not know, and need to know about climate change vulnerability in the western Canadian arctic: a systematic literature review. Environ Res Lett 5(1):014008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fraser ED, Simelton E, Termansen M, Gosling SN, South A (2013) Vulnerability hotspots: integrating socio-economic and hydrological models to identify where cereal production may decline in the future due to climate change induced drought. Agric For Meteorol 170:195–205

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ganapuram S, Nagarajan N, Balaji V (2013) Village-level drought vulnerability assessment using geographic information system (GIS). Int J Adv Res Comput Sci Softw Eng 3(3):1–10

    Google Scholar 

  • Gbetibouo GA, Ringler C (2009) Mapping South African farming sector vulnerability to climate change and variability: a subnational assessment. International Food Policy Research Institute Discussion paper 00885

  • Hinkel J, Klein RJ (2006) Integrating knowledge for assessing coastal vulnerability to climate change. In: McFadden L, Nicholls RJ, Penning-Rowsell EC (eds) Managing coastal vulnerability: an integrated approach. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam

    Google Scholar 

  • Hofmann ME, Hinkel J, Wrobel M (2011) Classifying knowledge on climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability in Europe for informing adaptation research and decision-making: a conceptual meta-analysis. Glob Environ Change 21(3):1106–1116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huang L, Yang P, Ren S (2014) The vulnerability assessment method for beijing agricultural drought. Computer and computing technologies in agriculture VII, pp 269–280

  • Hufschmidt G (2011) A comparative analysis of several vulnerability concepts. Nat Hazards 58(2):621–643

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change) (2001) Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. In: McCarthy JJ et al (eds) Contribution of working group II to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

  • IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change) (2007) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

  • Iglesias A, Moneo M, Quiroga S (2007) Methods for evaluating social vulnerability to drought. OPTIONS Méditerranéennes. Série B: Etudes et Recherches (CIHEAM)

  • Jain VK, Pandey RP, Jain MK (2015) Spatio-temporal assessment of vulnerability to drought. Nat Hazards 76(1):443–469

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jiang G, Yu F, Zhao Y (2012) An analysis of vulnerability to agricultural drought in China using the expand grey relation analysis method. Proced Eng 28:670–676

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson V, Fitzpatrick I, Floyd R, Simms A (2011) What is the evidence that scarcity and shocks in freshwater resources cause conflict instead of promoting collaboration. CEE review, 10-010

  • Jordaan AJ (2012) Drought risk reduction in the Northern Cape, South Africa. Ph.D., University of the Free State Bloemfontein

  • Karavitis C et al (2012) Drought impacts archive and drought vulnerability index, in DMCSEE Summary of project results

  • Keshavarz M, Karami E, Vanclay F (2013) The social experience of drought in rural Iran. Land Use Policy 30(1):120–129

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Khoshnodifar Z, Sookhtanlo M, Gholami H (2012) Identification and measurement of indicators of drought vulnerability among wheat farmers in Mashhad Country, Iran. J Ann Biol Res 3(2012):4593–4600

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim H, Park J, Yoo J, Kim TW (2013) Assessment of drought hazard, vulnerability, and risk: a case study for administrative districts in South Korea. J Hydro-environment Res 9(2015):28–35

    Google Scholar 

  • Kipterer J, Mundia C (2014) Drought risk and vulnerability assessment; a case study of Baringo County, Kenya. In: Scientific conference proceedings

  • Knutson C, Hayes M, Phillips T (1998) How to reduce drought risk, preparedness and mitigation working group of the western drought coordination council, Lincoln, pp 1–43

  • Kumar R (2008) Studies on assessment of vulnerability to drought. National Institute of Hydrology, India

    Google Scholar 

  • Lei Y, Luo L (2011) Drought risk assessment of China’s mid-season paddy. Int J Disaster Risk Sci 2(2):32–40

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu X, Wang Y, Peng J, Braimoh AK, Yin H (2013) Assessing vulnerability to drought based on exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity: a case study in middle Inner Mongolia of China. Chin Geogr Sci 23(1):13–25

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Luers AL, Lobell DB, Sklar LS, Addams CL, Matson PA (2003) A method for quantifying vulnerability, applied to the agricultural system of the Yaqui Valley, Mexico. Glob Environ Change 13(4):255–267

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mishra A, Singh VP (2010) A review of drought concepts. J Hydrol 391(1):202–216

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moring A, Németh, A. Bihari Z (2012) Estimation and mapping of drought vulnerability on the basis of climate, land use and soil parameters using GIS technique. Final conference of DMCSEE project. Ljubljana

  • Murthy CS, Yadav M, Ahamed JM, Laxman B, Prawasi R, Sai MS, Hooda RS (2015) A study on agricultural drought vulnerability at disaggregated level in a highly irrigated and intensely cropped state of India. Environ Monit Assess 187(3):1–14

    Google Scholar 

  • Naumann G, Barbosa P et al (2013) Exploring drought vulnerability in Africa: an indicator based analysis to inform early warning systems. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci Discuss 10(10):12217–12254

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pandey RP, Pandey A, Galkate RV, Byun HR, Mal BC (2010) Integrating hydro-meteorological and physiographic factors for assessment of vulnerability to drought. Water Resour Manage 24(15):4199–4217

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Perčec Tadić M, Gajić-Čapka M, Zaninović K, Cindrić K (2014) Drought vulnerability in Croatia. Agricu Conspec Sci ACS 79(1):31–38

    Google Scholar 

  • Pereira FN (2011) Climate change and vulnerability to drought in the semiarid: the case of smallholder farmers in the Brazilian Northeast. In: da Motta RS et al (eds) Climate change in Brazil: economic, social and regulatory aspects. IPEA, Brasilia

    Google Scholar 

  • Pereira D, Rocha JD, Debortoli N, Parente II, Eiró F, Bursztyn M, Rodrigues-Filho S (2014) Integrated assessment of smallholder farming’s vulnerability to drought in the Brazilian Semi-arid: a case study in Ceará. Clim Change 127:1–13

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Petticrew M, Roberts H (2006) Systematic reviews in the social sciences: a practical guide. Blackwell Publishers, Malden

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Plummer R, de Loë R, Armitage D (2012) A systematic review of water vulnerability assessment tools. Water Resour Manage 26(15):4327–4346

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Preston BL, Yuen EJ, Westaway RM (2011) Putting vulnerability to climate change on the map: a review of approaches, benefits, and risks. Sustain Sci 6(2):177–202

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Romieu E, Welle T, Schneiderbauer S, Pelling M, Vinchon C (2010) Vulnerability assessment within climate change and natural hazard contexts: revealing gaps and synergies through coastal applications. Sustain Sci 5(2):159–170

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rudel TK (2008) Meta-analyses of case studies: a method for studying regional and global environmental change. Glob Environ Change 18:18–25

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Safavi HR, Esfahani MK, Zamani AR (2014) Integrated index for assessment of vulnerability to drought, case study: zayandehrood River Basin, Iran. Water Resou Manage 28(6):1671–1688

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Salvati L, Zitti M, Ceccarelli T, Perini L (2009) Developing a synthetic index of land vulnerability to drought and desertification. Geogr Res 47(3):280–291

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shahid S, Behrawan H (2008) Drought risk assessment in the western part of Bangladesh. Nat Hazards 46(3):391–413

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shiau J, Hsiao Y (2012) Water-deficit-based drought risk assessments in Taiwan. Nat Hazards 64(1):237–257

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Simelton E, Fraser ED, Termansen M, Forster PM, Dougill AJ (2009) Typologies of crop-drought vulnerability: an empirical analysis of the socio-economic factors that influence the sensitivity and resilience to drought of three major food crops in China (1961–2001). Environ Sci Policy 12(4):438–452

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sivakumar MV, Stefanski R, Bazza M, Zelaya S, Wilhite D, Magalhaes AR (2014) High level meeting on national drought policy: summary and major outcomes. Weather Clim Extrem 3:126–132

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sohrabizadeh S, Tourani S, Khankeh HR (2014) The gender analysis tools applied in natural disasters management: a systematic literature review. PLoS Curr. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3958564/

  • Sönmez FK, Koemuescue AU, Erkan A, Turgu E (2005) An analysis of spatial and temporal dimension of drought vulnerability in Turkey using the standardized precipitation index. Nat Hazards 35(2):243–264

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sookhtanlo M, Gholami H, Es’haghi SR (2013) Drought risk vulnerability parameters among wheat farmers in Mashhad County Iran. Int J Agric Manage Dev 3(4):227–236

    Google Scholar 

  • Sreedhar G, Mishra SS, Nagarjan R, Balaji V (2012) Micro-level drought vulnerability assessment in Peddavagu basin, a Tributary of Krishna River, Andhra Pradesh. Earthzine, India

    Google Scholar 

  • Stahl K, Kohn I, Blauhut V, Urquijo J, De Stefano L, Acacio V, Dias S, Stagge JH, Tallaksen LM, Kampragou E, Van Loon AF, Barker LJ, Melsen LA, Bifulco C, Musolino D, de Carli A, Massarutto A, Assimacopoulos D, and Van Lanen H A J (under review) Impacts of European drought events: insights from an international database of text-based reports. Nat Hazards Earth Syst Sci Discuss 3:5453–5492. doi:10.5194/nhessd-3-5453-2015

  • Strosser P, Dworak, T, Garzon PA Berglund M, Schmidt G et al (2012) Gap analysis of the Water Scarcity and Droughts Policy in the EU. Final report. European Commission Tender ENV.D.1/SER/2010/0049/Acteon 2012. Inception report of water scarcity & droughts policy in the EU—gap analysis. Tender ENV.D.1/SER/2010/0049

  • Swain M, Swain M (2011) Vulnerability to agricultural drought in Western Orissa: a case study of representative blocks. Agric Econ Res Rev 24:1

    Google Scholar 

  • Thomas DS, Wilhelmi OV, Finnessey TN, Deheza V (2013) A comprehensive framework for tourism and recreation drought vulnerability reduction. Environ Res Lett 8(4):044004

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thompson HE, Berrang-Ford L, Ford JD (2010) Climate change and food security in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic literature review. Sustainability 2(8):2719–2733

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tscherning K, Helming K, Krippner B, Sieber S, Paloma SG (2012) Does research applying the DPSIR framework support decision making? Land Use Policy 29(1):102–110

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turner BL, Kasperson RE, Matson PA, McCarthy JJ et al (2003) A framework for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science. Proc Natl Acad Sci 100(14):8074–8079

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Vliet MTH, Zwolsman JJG (2008) Impact of summer droughts on the water quality of the Meuse river. J Hydrol 353(1):1–17

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Villholth KG, Tøttrup C, Stendel M, Maherry A et al (2011) Groundwater drought vulnerability mapping in the SADC region. Researcher’s day, climate change impact, Adaptation and Mitigation, University of Copenhagen, (ppt)

  • Villholth KG, Tøttrup C, Stendel M, Maherry A (2013) Integrated mapping of groundwater drought risk in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Hydrogeol J 21(4):863–885

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vincent K (2004) Creating an index of social vulnerability to climate change for Africa. Working Paper 65, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, Norwich

  • Vogel C, O’Brien K (2004) Vulnerability and global environmental change: rhetoric and reality. Aviso 13:1–8

    Google Scholar 

  • WHO (2014) Maps and spatial information technologies (Geographical Information Systems) in health and environment decision-making. (www.who.int/heli/tools/maps/en/)

  • Wilhite DA (2000) Drought: a global assessment, vols 1 and 2, Routledge, New York, pp 89–104, vols 1 and 2, Routledge, New York, pp 129–448

  • Wilhelmi OV, Wilhite DA (2002) Assessing vulnerability to agricultural drought: a nebraska case study. Nat Hazards 25(1):37–58

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilhite DA, Svoboda MD, Hayes MJ (2007) Understanding the complex impacts of drought: a key to enhancing drought mitigation and preparedness. Water Resour Manage 21(5):763–774

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wiréhn L, Danielsson Å, Neset TSS (2015) Assessment of composite index methods for agricultural vulnerability to climate change. J Environ Manage 156:70–80

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wolf S (2012) Vulnerability and risk: comparing assessment approaches. Nat Hazards 61(3):1099–1113

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wu D, Yan DH, Yang GY, Wang XG, Xiao WH, Zhang HT (2013) Assessment on agricultural drought vulnerability in the Yellow River basin based on a fuzzy clustering iterative model. Nat Hazards 67(2):919–936

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • WWAP (United Nations World Water Assessment Programme) (2014) The United Nations world water development report 2014: water and energy. UNESCO, Paris

    Google Scholar 

  • Xin L, Lin Z, Shengkui C, Suchuang D (2011) Quantitative assessment and spatial characteristics of agricultural drought risk in the Jinghe Watershed, Northwestern China. J Resour Ecol 2(4):338–344

    Google Scholar 

  • Yuan XC, Wang Q, Wang K, Wang B, Jin JL, Wei YM (2013b) China’s regional vulnerability to drought and its mitigation strategies under climate change: data envelopment analysis and analytic hierarchy process integrated approach. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 20(3):341–359

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zarafshani K, Sharafi L, Azadi H, Hosseininia G, De Maeyer P, Witlox F (2012) Drought vulnerability assessment: the case of wheat farmers in western Iran. Glob Planet Change 98:122–130

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang Q, Sun P, Li J, Xiao M, Singh VP (2014) Assessment of drought vulnerability of the Tarim River basin, Xinjiang, China. Theor Appl Climatol 121(1):337–347

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Mario Ballesteros for his help with the graphic material for this paper. This study was undertaken in the framework of the EU-funded project ‘‘Fostering European Drought Research and Science-Policy Interfacing’’ (DROUGHT R&SPI, Contract No. 282769).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Itziar González Tánago.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 75 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

González Tánago, I., Urquijo, J., Blauhut, V. et al. Learning from experience: a systematic review of assessments of vulnerability to drought. Nat Hazards 80, 951–973 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-015-2006-1

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-015-2006-1

Keywords

Navigation