Livelihoods and landscapes at the threshold of change: Disaster and resilience in a Chiapas coffee community

Hallie Eakin, Karina Benessaiah, Juan F. Barrera, Gustavo M. Cruz-Bello, Helda Morales

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    49 Scopus citations


    In 2005, torrential rains associated with Hurricane Stan devastated farm systems in southern Mexico. We present a case study on the impacts of and responses to Hurricane Stan by coffee households in three communities in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico, with the objective of illuminating the linkages between household vulnerability and resilience. We analyze data from 64 household surveys in a cluster analysis to link household impacts experienced to post-Stan adaptive responses and relate these results with landscape-level land-cover changes. The degree of livelihood change was most significant for land-constrained households whose specialization in coffee led to high exposure and sensitivity to Stan and little adaptive capacity. Across the sample, the role of coffee in livelihood strategies declined, as households sought land to secure subsistence needs and diversified economically after Stan. Nevertheless, livelihoods and landscape outcomes were not closely coupled, at least at the temporal and spatial scale of our analysis: We found no evidence of land-use change associated with farmers' coping strategies. While households held strong attitudes regarding effective resource management for risk reduction, this knowledge does not necessarily translate into capacities to manage resilience at broader scales. We argue that policy interventions are needed to help materialize local strategies and knowledge on risk management, not only to allow individual survival but also to enhance resilience at local, community and landscape scales.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)475-488
    Number of pages14
    JournalRegional Environmental Change
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 2012


    • Adaptation
    • Coffee
    • Disaster
    • Maize
    • Mexico
    • Resilience
    • Vulnerability

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Global and Planetary Change


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