Natural Hazards

, Volume 91, Issue 1, pp 409–429 | Cite as

Demystifying vulnerability assessment of agriculture communities in the Himalayas: a systematic review

Review Article


Agriculture communities in the Himalayas are disproportionately vulnerable due to the emerging challenges from climatic and non-climatic stressors. In this study, we systematically review peer-reviewed literature focused on vulnerability assessment of agriculture communities (n = 26) in the five Himalayan countries (Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan). We examine the yearly distribution, geographical scale, methodological approach, stress in consideration, indicators used, and assessment communication methods of the reviewed papers. Our findings indicate that vulnerability assessment of agriculture communities in the Himalayas is a recent practice, as all of the reviewed articles were published after 2007. About 62% of the assessments were conducted at local (household, community, and village) level, and few assessments at sub-national (19%) and basin (12%) levels. Indicator-based methods using primary quantitative data were most common (54%). Further, 90% of the studies addressed vulnerability to a single stressor with 50% of papers dealing with the vulnerability of agriculture communities to climate change and/or climate variability. From the analysis of the literature, it was found that multi-level, multi-stress, and comprehensive socio-ecological assessments were seldom attempted. Mostly the studies were done in isolated pockets and failed to identify the patterns of vulnerability. We advocate that to holistically understand the vulnerability-creating and differentiating mechanisms in agriculture communities, vulnerability assessment should adopt a multi-level approach by integrating both social and ecological determinants, firstly to identify the hotspots of vulnerability and then to deeply understand the root causes in the identified hotspots through integrated analysis.


Himalayas Vulnerability assessment Agriculture communities Systematic review 



Authors are thankful to the anonymous reviewers and the editorial board of the journal for providing constructive comments and recommendations on earlier version of the manuscript. Authors acknowledge the support of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India (GoI) (Project Serial Number: R&D/NNRMS/2/2013-14). We also acknowledge Ms. Niharika Tyagi for proof-reading the manuscript. PKJ is thankful to DST-PURSE of Jawaharlal Nehru University for research support.

Supplementary material

11069_2017_3120_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural ResourcesTERI UniversityNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.School of Environmental SciencesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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