Indicators of community vulnerability and adaptive capacity across the Murray-Darling Basin: a focus on irrigation in agriculture

Agriculture Australia New South Wales
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There are many changes occurring in rural and regional communities in the Murray-Darling Basin as a result of climate change, water availability, water trading, global markets, population movements and ongoing social changes. Basin communities will respond to and be affected by a range of these drivers in combination with their adaptive capacity, resilience and vulnerability. This project was commissioned by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to measure the vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity of Basin communities to changes in water availability - due to a range of factors - in order to inform MDBA planning and decisionmaking.

The aim of the project was to increase understanding of community socio-economic circumstances in the Murray-Darling Basin and to provide a readily accessible metric with which to compare the vulnerability of the many communities across the Basin. A set of measures of community vulnerability to changes in water availability was developed drawing on and adapting the IPCC framework (Allen Consulting 2005). Composite indices were derived to spatially examine differences across regions and communities and these were mapped at the Basin scale. The work applies the concept of sensitivity, which in the context of this report is a measure of the reliance of Basin communities on irrigation water and their dependence on associated agricultural and processing employment. It then develops the composite index of community vulnerability by overlaying this sensitivity with a measure of the adaptive capacity of communities to manage or cope with change.

The results show that community vulnerability to changes in water availability varies widely across the Basin depending on the different adaptive capacities and sensitivities of particular communities.

Publication Details
Publication place:
Canberra, ACT
Publication Year: