A conceptual model-based approach to explore community livelihood adaptation under uncertainty for adaptive delta management

U. Kulsum*, J. Timmermans, M. S.A. Khan, W. Thissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
78 Downloads (Pure)


Delta communities worldwide are facing a multitude of challenges in their life and livelihood. In many developing countries, improving the quality of life and livelihood is a key challenge. While development is a central goal of delta planning in such countries, the effectiveness of planning is challenged by uncertain changes in climate and socio-economy. Bangladesh (one of the countries) is moving towards the adaptive delta management approach to deal with such uncertainties. Historical examples illustrate that Community Livelihood Adaptation (CLA) can critically influence the effectiveness of a policy strategy. Therefore, there is a clear need to explore CLA under uncertainty. For that purpose, this paper develops and applies a conceptual model-based approach combining the mental model and scenarios techniques. Our approach starts by using a participatory process to elicit mental models a farmers’ community uses when considering adaptation decisions; we capture these in the form of a cognitive map, and this map can serve as a conceptual model for analyzing livelihood adaptation decision-making in a future-oriented scenario analysis. To illustrate the approach, a case study of cropping decision-making of farmers community at a polder location under the saline condition in the southwest of Bangladesh has been elaborated. Results show that the approach is useful in structuring the cognitive and qualitative nature of complex decision-making process, and helps in understanding the dynamic interactions of farmers’ adaptation decisions with other actors, their environmental attributes, and market traits. It can help policymakers anticipate the adaptation direction of policy strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-595
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • adaptation
  • Adaptive Delta Management (ADM)
  • Bangladesh
  • community
  • livelihood
  • Uncertainty


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