Rapid, cost-effective and high resolution assessment of climate-related vulnerability of rural communities of Sikkim Himalaya, India

With impacts of climate change becoming increasingly visible locally, identification of areas vulnerable to climate change risks is emerging as an urgent policy need. The present study responds to this requirement by identifying the most vulnerable villages using a rapid, cost-effective and highresolution methodology. We provide a preliminary, village-level, climate-related vulnerability assessment of the rural communities in Sikkim, India. We found that climate change impacts have resulted in a reduction in the temporal spread of rainfall and an increase in the intensity with a marked decline in winter rain. We show that the subtropical villages (less than 1000 m), especially in the drought-prone zones are more vulnerable due to an increased outbreak of pests, diseases and weeds. Spring water sources are drying up and preservation of seeds during the warm winter is becoming risky. A high variation was found in the sensitivity and adaptive capacity due to the diverse developmental profile of the villages. Hence while climate change adaptation-related developmental interventions need to have a diverse sectoral profile, they must geographically target areas with specific interventions. We expect that this study will provide a scientific basis for designing climate change adaptation policy and programmes.