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Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis (CVCA)

The CVCA methodology provides a framework for analyzing vulnerability and capacity to adapt to climate change at the community level.
woman farmer


Effective adaptation is based on a solid understanding of vulnerability to climate change. The impacts of climate change affect people differently based on their capacity to respond. What this means is that many of the factors which shape vulnerability to climate change have nothing to do with the climate.

Issues of power, access to information and services and control over resources are important in determining people’s capacity to adapt to climate change. Therefore, we need to understand the socio-economic dimensions of vulnerability, and in particular those factors that make women and other marginalized groups particularly vulnerable.

CARE believes that the most effective way to do this is through a participatory analysis process which engages all stakeholders in understanding climate-related challenges, identifying adaptation solutions and taking steps to act on those solutions. To facilitate this, CARE has developed the Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis (CVCA) process to help ourselves, our partners and the communities we work with to better understand the implications of climate change for the lives and livelihoods of the people we serve.

By combining local knowledge with scientific climate information, the process builds people’s understanding about climate risks and adaptation strategies. It provides a framework for dialogue within communities, as well as between communities and other stakeholders. Most important, it helps to identify those people within communities and households who may be particularly vulnerable, and to better understand the challenges they face.

The results of the analysis provide a solid foundation for the identification of practical strategies to facilitate community-based adaptation to climate change. The knowledge can also be used to integrate adaptation into livelihoods and natural resource management programs, and to provide practical evidence for advocating pro-poor climate change policies.

The CVCA Handbook (ENGLISH) (SPANISH) (FRENCH) (PORTUGUESE) (THAI) (BAHASA) provides an overview of the methodology, as well as practical guidance for using it in the design and implementation of adaptation actions.

What’s new and different about the CVCA?

There are a number of characteristics which make the CVCA process different from other forms of participatory learning and analysis. These include:

  • Focus on climate change: The CVCA focuses on understanding how climate change will affect the lives and livelihoods of target populations. It examines hazards, vulnerability to climate change and adaptive capacity with a view to building resilience for the future. The types of tools suggested are tried-and-true Participatory Learning for Action (PLA) tools, but with a climate “lens”. The tools are used to draw out issues, which are then examined in the context of climate change through guided discussion.

  • Analyzing conditions and hazards: The CVCA attempts to combine good practices from analyses done for development initiatives, which tend to focus on conditions of poverty and vulnerability1, and those done within the context of disaster risk reduction (DRR), which tend to focus on hazards2. The framework of the CVCA facilitates analysis of the information gained from both types of assessments from a climate change perspective. It examines both hazards and conditions, and analyzes the interactions between the two.

  • Emphasis on multi-stakeholder analysis, collaborative learning and dialogue:While the primary purpose of the CVCA is to analyze information, the methodology is designed to balance the research agenda with a process of learning and dialogue among local stakeholders. This can yield a greater understanding within communities of the resources available to them to support adaptation, and can promote dialogue among stakeholders on adaptation actions that make sense.

  • Focus on communities but also examines enabling environment: Vulnerability to climate change can vary within countries, communities and even households. Therefore, adaptation requires context-specific activities, with strategies targeted to meet the needs of different vulnerable groups. At the same time, local and national policies and institutions play a critical role in shaping people’s capacity to adapt to climate change. Thus, the CVCA process focuses on the community level but incorporates analysis of issues at regional and national level in an effort to foster an enabling environment for community-based adaptation.

Who is this Handbook for?

The CVCA Handbook is designed for use by:

  • Project managers and field staff: Staff that are engaged in livelihoods projects or community-based adaptation projects will find useful guidelines on how to collect and analyze information from community, government and scientific perspectives. This information can be used to design locally appropriate climate change adaptation activities.

  • Local partners (government and NGOs):The tools and process are designed to be used and replicated by a wide range of stakeholders. Local governmental and non-governmental organizations can use the CVCA to assist in integrating vulnerability and adaptation issues into planning and programs.

  • Communities: Communities can use the tools in this Handbook to support their own process of investigation and learning. The results can be used to plan collective action on adaptation, or to lobby local government or NGOs for appropriate interventions to support them in adapting to the changing climate.

This Handbook is intended as a starting point. We hope that practitioners will experiment with the CVCA methodology by adapting it to their circumstances and enriching it with their experiences. Your feedback will help us evolve the methodology and will form the basis for future updates.

Case studies on weADAPT that have used the CVCA methodology

Related resources

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