Ana Karla Perea, MEM

2010 Compton Fellow in Mexico

Household level adaptation to drought in the southern region of the Yucatan Peninsula

Impacts associated with climate change are expected to affect the poorest communities that are unable to cope with the increasing alterations in the weather (Saleemul Huq and Hannah Reid, 2007)1. In many parts of Mexico the rainy season has been delayed, with the beginning of the period moving towards October (INE, 2010)2. Weather forecasts for 2020 estimate an increase of 4.2% in the land not suitable to plant seasonal corn (INE, 2010)3.

Delays in the rainfall season may be critical to the livelihoods of families or households depending on seasonal agriculture. In places where drought is becoming more frequent, farmers need to adjust their agricultural practices to the changing environmental and climate conditions (Baas and Ramasamy, 2008)4, look for off farm activities, de-intensify agriculture, or a combination of all the above. For that reason, it is important to better understand the existing adaptation mechanisms of local farmers and analyze if these can be complemented with other practices or technologies.

The project aims to assess the perception of risk in nine communities in the southern Yucatan Peninsula and to identify ongoing adaptation strategies in the rural sector of the region. The project will assess if risk perception influences communities' choice of adaptation strategies to drought, or if the adaptation strategies are a consequence of regional policy such as government programs.

Preliminary results from the interviews show that there are some ongoing adaptation strategies in the region. The predominant strategies are: changes in the agriculture calendar, diversification and migration. Changes in the agriculture calendar include the planting on different months according to the rainfall, planting twice a year, or planting only in lands close to the households. Many communities have diversified their economic activities by harvesting wood, producing honey or selling livestock. In other communities the main adaptation strategy is finding another temporary job in a city or in the tourist sector in the region.

As farmers continue to feel the consequences of climate change through an increasing variability on rainfall, it is necessary to identify which adaptation strategies can be implemented successfully in the southern Yucatan Peninsula. By building capacity for adaptation to climate change, resilience to drought can be promoted.


. Saleemul Huq and Hannah Reid, A vital approach to the threat climate change poses to the poor, Community-Based Adaptation: An IIED Briefing, International Institute for Environment and Development, 2007.

2. National Institute of Ecology, Mexico, 2010. http://www.ine.gob.mx/index.php

3. Ibid

4. Baas Stephan and Ramasamy Selvaraju, Community Based Adaptation in Action: A case study from Bangladesh, Project summary report (Phase I), Improved Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change for Sustainable, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome Department of Agricultural Extension, 2008.


Household Level Adaptation in the Southern Region of the Yucatan Peninsula