A farm in rural Tobago in the Caribbean. A study written in part by an Abt staff member found that climate change is expected to affect food security in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago is a small island state in southern Caribbean, a region that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has categorized as a global hot spot due to its limited adaptive capacity to climate change.
Researchers from Abt Associates and Indiana University Northwest (IUN) recently investigated the relationship between household-level food security and climate change in coastal wetland-situated households in Trinidad and Tobago.
In the Caribbean, a lack of data hampers efforts to empirically link climate change and food security or other issues such as health or poverty.
“This study not only moves this conversation forward significantly by introducing a rigorous, yet practical impact assessment model applicable to the region, but also provides a valuable insight for community and national planners and policy makers both in Trinidad and Tobago and in similar country circumstances that must consider food security in light of climate change and increase in climate-induced extreme weather events” said Hari Bansha Dulal, senior associate at Abt and co-author of the study with Kalim U. Shah of Indiana University Northwest.
All Households Would Feel Some Impact of Climate ChangeThe study focused on 138 rural households in the rural Nariva and Caroni communities, regions whose food security already is at risk due to limited capacity to adapt to change.
Rural communities have weaker ties to centralized resilience-strengthening, infrastructure, and systems that mitigate the effects of climate change. Moreover, rural communities, such as Nariva and Caroni, have high dependence on prevailing ecosystem services for livelihoods in farming, hunting, fishing, and nature-based tourism, which are susceptible to climate change.
“The most significant climatic change indicator impacting rural wetlands is precipitation,” Dulal said. “Flooding incidents and the number of household injuries and deaths through weather-related-disasters reduce household food security.”
The study found with an increase in climate change exposure, household food security would decrease in both Nariva and Caroni. Household socio-demographics, reproductive choices, and work and savings opportunities are strongly related to food security, but the level of food security provided by these is reduced in the face of climate variability and climate-induced extreme weather events.
The study proposed a multi-pronged approach to strengthen the adaptive capacity of rural households and ultimately increase food security: Raise the level of formal education of household heads and assist households with the time- and resource- consuming activities of dependent care. Additionally, the study identified access to centralized, resilience-strengthening infrastructure as important to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Read the full study.