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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

Livelihood Sensitivity Exercise

Livelihood sensitivity mapping exercise is a means of integrating existing knowledge of climate vulnerability with livelihood analysis. It commonly involves stakeholder participation.

Initially the exercise can be conducted in the context of rapid workshop breakout group, but eventually can be formalized via the inclusion of expert analysis, impact models, or historical analogues: The exercise involves developing a matrix with three blocks of rows — beginning with ecosystem services (e.g., soil moisture), then livelihood activities (such as crop production) and finally a synthesis based on livelihoods themselves. Climatic stresses (e.g., drought) are listed as columns. Users then fill in the cells - rating the sensitivity of ecosystem services, activities and livelihoods to a range of hazards and stresses. Exposure across the hazards and impacts across the services/activities/livelihoods can be calculated as aggregated indices.

Appropriate Use Livelihood sensitivity exercise is a useful tool for helping identify vulnerable livelihoods and consequently targeting adaptations that aim to increase the resiliency of particular livelihood strategies to climate change. Livelihood sensitivity exercise is best applied to a single sector or region at any one time. The approach has been used in regional training workshops for the NAPA teams.
Scope All sectors. Most applicable at a local or regional level.
Key Output Ranking of vulnerable livelihoods as well as an overall livelihood sensitivity index.
Key Input Qualitative assessments of sensitivity of livelihoods to climatic threats.
Ease of Use Easy
Training Required A familiarity with livelihoods, expert knowledge elicitation, and vulnerability indicators is helpful.
Training Available The NAPA workshops have produced a range of presentations and a sample spreadsheet that are available at and The spreadsheet includes notes on delineation of livelihoods and an illustrative example based on agriculture in southern Africa.
Computer Requirements Computer access
Documentation Available at


Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance

Dr. Thomas Downing

Stockholm Environment Institute, Oxford Office, 10B Littlegate Street, Oxford, OX1 1QT, United Kingdom; Tel: +44.1865.202070; e-mail:

Cost Free


Downing, T.E. 2003. Livelihood Sensitivity to Climatic Hazards. Annex to Technical Paper 3 of the Adaptation Planning Framework. SEI, Oxford, UK. (