How do rural households and communities develop and adapt resilience practices to withstand and recover from environmental shocks?

Disaster events and environmental shocks disproportionately affect rural and poor populations. A hotspot for natural disasters with over 80% of the rural population dependent on agriculture and home-produced food, the Nepali Himalayas are especially vulnerable to earthquakes. Enhancing resilience and adaptive capacity can improve post-shock outcomes for both human and ecological communities. Considerable evidence suggests that diversified agroecosystems and agricultural practices are more resilient to economic and climate variability and change as compared to monocrop systems that rely heavily on external inputs and market demand. Diversified farming systems may protect natural resources, maintain or even increase agrobiodiversity, and strengthen farmer resilience to climate variability, natural disasters or economic crises.

 The primary goal of our research group is to assess agroecological resilience by examining vulnerabilities in socio-ecological systems and, in partnership with local communities and non-governmental groups, identify actions that can be taken to create a more sustainable future for people and the land. Using a mixed-methods and participatory approach, we will conduct extensive fieldwork near the epicenters of the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal to increase our understanding of how diverse and changing farming systems and livelihoods interact with post-shock community resilience. We expand upon more traditional methods of data collection through a series of knowledge-sharing platforms where communities are active participants in their own research and share data i.e. strategies for increased resilience with neighbors.

Results may show how diversified socio-ecological systems impact resilience in rural mountain communities where climatic and environmental shocks continue to affect vulnerable populations. Findings will contribute to national and regional resource management policies and provide opportunities for knowledge sharing across diverse communities impacted by sudden shocks and ongoing variability.