Changes in adaptive capacity of Kenyan fishing communities


Coastal communities are particularly at risk from the impacts of a changing climate1. Building the capacity of coastal communities to cope with and recover from a changing environment is a critical means to reducing their vulnerability2,3. Yet, few studies have quantitatively examined adaptive capacity in such communities. Here, we build on an emerging body of research examining adaptive capacity in natural resource-dependent communities in two important ways. We examine how nine indicators of adaptive capacity vary: among segments of Kenyan fishing communities; and over time. Socially disaggregated analyses found that the young, those who had migrated, and those who do not participate in decision-making seemed least prepared for adapting to change in these resource-dependent communities. These results highlight the most vulnerable segments of society when it comes to preparing for and adapting to change in resource-dependent communities. Comparisons through time showed that aspects of adaptive capacity seemed to have increased between 2008 and 2012 owing to higher observed community infrastructure and perceived availability of credit.

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Figure 1: The impacts of climate change on coral reef fisheries.
Figure 2: Map of study sites.
Figure 3: Differences in adaptive capacity over time and among different segments of Kenyan fishing communities.


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T. McClanahan, E. Darling, C. Abunge, A. Humphries, N. Graham and C. DeYoung are acknowledged for their support and contributions on the larger social-ecological vulnerability project this paper resulted from. Financial support was provided through the Australian Research Council, the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, the MacArthur Foundation, and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

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J.E.C. designed the research in consultation with T.M.D. and E.H.A. J.E.C. and A.W. conducted the fieldwork. C.H. conducted the analyses. J.E.C., C.H., C.C.H., T.M.D., N.M., A.W. and E.H.A. participated in a workshop and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Joshua E. Cinner.

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Cinner, J., Huchery, C., Hicks, C. et al. Changes in adaptive capacity of Kenyan fishing communities. Nature Clim Change 5, 872–876 (2015).

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