Resilience to climate-related shocks and stressors in Kyrgyzstan: developing resilience indicators to predict well-being

abbie_clareProject lead: Abbie Clare
Partners: University of Central Asia, Aga Khan Foundation, Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation

Geographical focus: Kyrgyzstan

Duration: Jan 2016 – Dec 2017

This research project will explore the mechanisms through which Kyrgyzstan communities respond to climate-related shocks and stressors, investigate the socio-environmental factors that enable well-being in these conditions, and develop innovative measures to track resilience over time and space.

More information

Kyrgyzstan is one of the most exposed countries globally to the hazardous impacts of climate change. The most common shocks and stressors resulting from climate change are intense rains (causing floods, mudflows and landslides), heat waves (resulting in floods and slope instability through thawing permafrost), droughts, cold spells, and gaps in energy and water supply.  It is therefore important to understand how households can best be supported to be resilient to these events, i.e., to be able to cope, adapt and even transform in order to maximise their well-being, despite more regular and intense shock and stressor experiences.

In order to build resilience to climate-related shocks and stressors we must understand what resilience is and what conditions facilitate it. As a result, it is important that we are able to measure this multi-faceted and dynamic concept.

Yet resilience cannot be directly observed and therefore resilience indices are often used as a proxy, typically involving combinations of objective measures for economic, social, technological, environmental, infrastructure and governance characteristics.

However another approach is to use subjective measures, which collect information on people’s perceptions of their own situation and resilience.  This emphasis on perception is important, as climate resilience is determined by more than just objective characteristics of people’s environments, also being influenced by psycho-social constructs such as self-efficacy, perceived adaptive capacity, and risk perception. As a result, qualitative and quantitative subjective climate change resilience measures are increasingly being explored and included in climate change resilience measurement guidelines.

Building on early advances in the field of subjective resilience, this project therefore aims to understand:

  1. Which household characteristics are most strongly associated with improved resilience and well-being across differing livelihood types in Kyrgyzstan
  2. Which resilience measures (objective and/or subjective) most effectively predict well-being in the face of shocks and stressors

Ultimately the results of our research should inform:

  1. Resilience policy and programme design, as we will provide context-specific information on what conditions most enable resilience at the household level
  2. Research and NGO practice, as we will provide some of the first longitudinal data on which measures of resilience are most strongly associated with well-being