Characterising the vulnerability of fishing households to climate and environmental change: Insights from Ghana

Daniel Koomson*, Sian Davies-Vollum, Debadayita Raha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Rural coastal communities in the global south are mostly natural resource-dependent and their livelihoods are therefore vulnerable to the impacts of climate and environmental changes. Efforts to improve their adaptive capacity often prove mal-adaptive due to misunderstanding the dynamics of the unique socioeconomic factors that shape their vulnerability. By integrating theories from climate change vulnerability and the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach, this study draws upon household survey data from a fishing community in Ghana to assess the vulnerability of fishing households to climate change and explore how their vulnerability is differentiated within the community. The findings suggest that household incomes in the last decade have reduced significantly, attributable to an interaction of both climatic and non-climatic factors. Analysis of the characteristics of three vulnerability groups derived by quantile clustering showed that the most vulnerable household group is not necessarily women or poorer households as expected. Rather, it is dynamic and includes all gender and economic class categories in varying proportions depending on the success or failure of the fishing season. The findings suggest furthermore that the factors that significantly differentiates vulnerability between households differ, depending on whether households are categorised by economic class, gender of household-head or vulnerability group. Consequently, the study highlights the importance of looking beyond existing social categorizations like gender and economic classes when identifying and prioritizing households for climate change adaptive capacity building.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104142
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date27 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Ghana
  • fishing
  • vulnerability
  • adaptive capacity
  • climate change

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