Climate change and variability severely affect rural livelihoods and agricultural productivity, yet they are causes of stress vulnerable rural households have to cope with. This paper investigated farming communities’ vulnerability to climate change and climate variability across 34 agricultural-based districts in Tigray, northern Ethiopia. It considered 24 biophysical and socio-economic indicators to reflect the three components of climate change vulnerability: exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. A framework was used that combines exposure and sensitivity to produce potential impact, which was then compared with adaptive capacity in order to yield an overall measure of vulnerability. The classic statistical technique of factor analysis was applied to generate weights for the different indicators and an overall vulnerability index was constructed for the 34 rural districts. The analysis revealed that the districts deemed to be most vulnerable to climate change and variability overlapped with the most vulnerable populations. The most exposed farming communities showed a relatively low capacity for adaptation. The study further showed that vulnerability to climate change and variability is basically linked to social and economic developments.
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