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Extreme Weather, Climate Change and the Livelihoods of Hillside Households in the Jesus de Otoro Valley, Honduras

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Title: Extreme Weather, Climate Change and the Livelihoods of Hillside Households in the Jesus de Otoro Valley, Honduras
Author: Kocsis, Joanna
Department: School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
Program: Rural Planning and Development
Advisor: Yap, Nonita
Abstract: This thesis is an investigation of the impacts of extreme weather on the livelihoods of households in the hillside communities of the Jesus de Otoro Valley, Honduras. Extreme weather events can have profound negative impacts on livelihoods that rely heavily on natural resources, such as agriculture. The reliance of hillside households on agriculture and related activities for survival makes this population critically vulnerable to the negative impacts of extreme weather. This study found that the livelihood resources of this group that are most affected by extreme weather events are cash income and human health. Strong rains, drought and extreme temperatures have several direct impacts on household income, not only for hillside farmers themselves, but also for the merchants whose businesses have been developed to serve them. Extreme weather events also have multiple direct impacts on human health. Increased incidence of bacterial infections and communicable diseases are serious effects of strong rains, drought and temperature extremes. This study found a clear positive feedback link between decreased income and deterioration of health. Climate change studies predict that extreme weather events will become more frequent and severe. If these predictions are correct, hillside households will suffer potentially devastating impacts on their livelihoods. The coping strategies currently employed by hillside households in the face of extreme weather events are unlikely to provide the resources needed for households to survive under more severe and unstable weather conditions.
Date: 2011-09
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