Developing and Testing a Rapid Assessment Method for Understanding Key Social Factors of Ecological Drought Preparedness

Science Center Objects

Drought is a complex environmental hazard that impacts both ecological and social systems. Accounting for the role of human attitudes, institutions, and societal values in drought planning is important to help identify how various drought durations and severity may differentially affect social resilience to adequately respond to and manage drought impacts. While there have been successful past ...

Drought is a complex environmental hazard that impacts both ecological and social systems. Accounting for the role of human attitudes, institutions, and societal values in drought planning is important to help identify how various drought durations and severity may differentially affect social resilience to adequately respond to and manage drought impacts. While there have been successful past efforts to understand how individuals, communities, institutions, and agencies plan for and respond to drought, these studies have relied on extensive multi-year case studies in specific locations. In contrast, this project seeks to determine how social science insights and methods can best contribute to ecological drought preparedness and resilience in situations where extensive field study is not feasible. 



Specifically, the project team will investigate what a rapid social assessment method might look like in the context of ecological drought, how it may be applied, and what benefits it may contribute to drought preparedness and resilience. This method would allow researchers to expeditiously identify and analyze relevant characteristics of the social system that have bearing on the problem of ecological drought and allow water and resource managers, community leaders, and others involved with drought preparedness and response to quickly identify, assess, and measure important social factors that influence the effects of drought to ecosystems.



This project will include analyzing currently available rapid assessment methods from other topical areas (including ecological, rural, hazards, etc.) to inform the method to be developed by providing relevant design criteria. A prototype version of the method will be developed and pilot tested with the identified audience to determine effectiveness and strengths and weaknesses.  Finally, the method will be refined and made available more widely to Department of Interior resource managers.