Vulnerability to multiple stressors in coastal communities: a study of the Andaman coast of Thailand
Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change have become a dominant theme in development and conservation research and work. Yet coastal communities are facing a wider array of different stressors that affect the sustainability of natural resources and the adaptive capacity of local residents. The ability of communities and households to adapt is influenced by the nature, number, and magnitude of the changes with which they have to contend. In this paper, we present the range of 36 socio-economic (i.e. economic, social, governance and conflict) and biophysical (i.e. climate change and other environmental) stressors that emerged from qualitative interviews in seven coastal communities on the Andaman coast of Thailand. These stressors were then integrated into a quantitative survey of 237 households wherein participants were asked to rate the level of impact of these stressors on household livelihoods. Ratings showed that economic and some climate change stressors – extreme weather events and changes in rainfall patterns and seasons – were scored higher than other stressors. The paper also examines the relationships between community and various individual and household characteristics – such as gender, age, livelihoods, levels of social capital, and socio-economic status – and the perceived level of impacts of various stressors on household livelihoods. Overall, community and livelihoods had the most differentiated impacts on perceptions of stressors but few other prominent patterns emerged. In conclusion, this paper discusses the implications of the results for current climate change vulnerability and adaptation policy and practice in Thailand and elsewhere.
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