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Variability in perceptions of household livelihood resilience and drought at the intersection of gender and ethnicity


Over the past decade, there has been a growing focus on resilience-building work by international humanitarian and development organizations; however, development policies have historically given less attention to the different perceptions and experiences of women and various ethnic groups. Drawing on empirical evidence from Isiolo County, Kenya, the objective of this paper is to highlight how resilience-building work should pay more attention to differing perceptions of livelihood resilience between genders and members of different ethnic groups, specifically through an intersectional lens. A total of 338 quantitative household surveys were conducted: 152 in Kinna and 187 in Burat. Perceptions of livelihood resilience were measured using the Household Livelihood Resilience Approach (HLRA). Results found that perceptions of livelihood resilience were lower for females and did vary between the four ethnic groups involved in the study. An intersectional analysis of gender and ethnicity found more nuanced results than looking at gender or ethnicity alone. Further, while perceptions of changes in drought severity and frequency were not significantly different between genders, they did vary by ethnic group and major livelihood practice. Overall, research results demonstrate how perceptions of household livelihood resilience, and the impacts of climate change, vary based on the intersectionality of demographic characteristics. Integrating a diversity of perceptions into resilience-building work can lead to more successful outcomes for a greater number of individuals, achieving overall poverty reduction.

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Most importantly, I would like to acknowledge the communities of Burat and Kinna that so graciously welcomed me and to the households that spent sometimes hours answering our endless questions. Second, this research would not have been possible without the assistance of the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, and the Kenya Red Cross Society—Isiolo Branch, in Isiolo. Red Cross Volunteers played an integral role in all stages of data collection, and a special thanks goes to Noor Hussein. I would also like to thank J. Terrence McCabe, Henry Neufeldt, Joel Harrter, Lisa Dilling, Myles Osborne, and Max Boykoff for their feedback.


This work was supported by a US Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Graduate Research Grant (grant number 206766) which supported field and research costs for Quandt.

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Correspondence to Amy Quandt.

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Research participants provided informed consent to take part in this research. This research was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Colorado under protocol no. 14-0059.

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Quandt, A. Variability in perceptions of household livelihood resilience and drought at the intersection of gender and ethnicity. Climatic Change 152, 1–15 (2019).

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