Can subjective resilience indicators predict future food security? Evidence from three communities in rural Kyrgyzstan


Recent attempts to develop a standardised tool to quantify levels of household resilience to climate extremes have typically generated very large household surveys, which take a number of hours to complete. Moreover, there are significant questions over which resilience capacities to measure, how to measure them, and how to weight them for their relative importance in facilitating or hindering resilience in any given context.

This paper is the first to quantitatively compare the power of subjective and objective resilience measures to predict future wellbeing (in this case, represented by household food security) in the face of socio-environmental shocks and stressors. It finds that subjective approaches to resilience measurement may offer an attractive alternative to objective surveys.

Key points for decision-makers

  • A subjective approach asks respondents to rate their overall perceived resilience. Therefore more emphasis is placed on what resilience means to local people and it leaves the choice of which capacities, in what combination and quantities up to them.
  • The study used a household panel data set collected in three contrasting rural Kyrgyzstan villages. The results reveal that subjective resilience indicators are strong independent predictors of future food security.
  • The subjective indicators capture variance that is not picked up by standard objective indicators and increase the accuracy of models that predict future levels of household food security.
  • There is tentative evidence that the subjective resilience indicators may be comparable across contexts, but more research is required to confirm this early-stage observation.

This work was undertaken as part of the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-Arid Economies (PRISE) project.

ISSN 2515-5717 (Online) – Grantham Research Institute Working Paper series

ISSN 2515-5709 (Online) – CCCEP Working Paper series