Geographic Vulnerability Analysis Exercise

Vulnerability of Population to Flood Risk in Malawi
Vulnerability of Population to Flood Risk in Malawi

My experience reading national climate change adaptation plans from developing countries is that their vulnerability analysis and synthesis could be improved with geographic analysis! In response, Eliza Drury and I reviewed and developed guidelines for Geographic Vulnerability Analysis in Developing Countries. I took Eliza’s geographic vulnerability analysis work on Malawi in ArcGIS and translated it into an exercise in open-source QGIS: GIS software any developing country planner or NGO can afford! The exercise is designed for anyone who has already taken an introductory course in any GIS software. I gave the exercise to my seminar in Geographies of Climate Change Adaptation and Development in Spring 2016 and edited it based on student feedback. Several students then successfully applied GVA in their own research projects.

Geographic Vulnerability Analysis in Developing Countries

Eliza Drury worked with me over the summer of 2015 in the Climate and Development Lab at Brown University to analyze geographic analysis in national adaptation programmes of action and apply geographic vulnerability analysis to the test case of Malawi’s climate change adaptation plans. We wanted to test whether adaptation plans really prioritized the places where climate change vulnerability is greatest, as defined in the adaptation planning process itself. We found that very few countries used geographic vulnerability analysis, but that the method helped improve the quality of proposed adaptation projects (see diagrams below).

National adaptation planning without geographic vulnerability analysis does not recognize interactions of vulnerability between sectors or develop projects cutting across sectors.
National adaptation planning without geographic vulnerability analysis does not recognize interactions of vulnerability between sectors or develop projects cutting across sectors.
National adaptation planning with geographic vulnerability analysis. Improvements are signaled with red font color. GVA helps identify interactions of vulnerability between sectors and plan cross-sectoral adaptation projects targeting the most vulnerable locations.
National adaptation planning with geographic vulnerability analysis. Improvements are signaled with red font color. GVA helps identify interactions of vulnerability between sectors and plan cross-sectoral adaptation projects targeting the most vulnerable locations.

We reviewed methods and guidelines for national adaptation planning provided by developing countries by the UNFCCC and Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG), and found that geographic analysis was recommended, but guidance was out of date. In response to this, Eliza took on senior work in environmental studies with myself and Dr. Timmons Roberts to update guidance for developing countries to use geographic vulnerability analysis using Malawi as an example case. She presented this work at the climate change research conference in Bangladesh and fulfilled an invitation to write a summary of the work for the Dhaka Tribune.

As final products, we are publishing a Technical Guide to Geographic Vulnerability Analysis (with Eliza as lead author) and an applied Geographic Vulnerability Analysis Exercise.

Teen Pregnancy

My wife, Kate, is currently interviewing Rhode Island school nurses to learn about school nurse communication with primary care physicians and how public schools and their nurses handle contraception. To help her understand the geographic context of teen pregnancy in Rhode Island, I used data collected by KidsCount to map the rates of births to teenage girls aged 15-17 and calculated linear regression trends from 2000 to 2010. As usual, I put these maps together in QGIS.

There are drastic demographic differences in pregnancy rates, with minority communities much higher than others in Rhode Island, but those communities are also decreasing teen pregnancy rates more quickly than any others. An exception from that trend here is West Warwick, at 20 births per 1000 teenage girls. However, there are pockets of impoverished children in West Warwick, so perhaps childhood poverty is a better predictor than race and ethnicity? See minority and childhood poverty maps in my Health Geography Primer for RI post.

teenBirths

teenBirthTrends