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Climate vulnerability in Cuba: the role of social networks

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L. Sygna
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This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of climate change adaptation in the context of social networks, and asks why some people are better able to cope than others. It examines recent economic and social developments in Cuba, and how these impact on vulnerability. The processes of climate change and economic changes are forcing Cubans to adapt and cope, and this research indicates that social networks are an important part of these strategies.Cuba is heavily affected by global change processes, including the various impacts of climate change. Globalisation and an economy in transition have added to these stresses, increasing the social inequality and the vulnerability of certain groups. Social vulnerability is dynamic in nature, and thus social networks can contribute to an improved understanding of complexity and diversity in coping capacities. For policy ends, understanding the role of networks may shed light on adaptation and the potential for civil-state synergies or reveal conflicting issues.The authors find that Cuban patterns of coping have changed considerably over the years, with the decentralisation of markets and networks. A new socio-economic order means, however, that access to these markets and networks is not equally distributed. Although network participation may allow Cubans a means to sustain their livelihoods, this also generates increased inequalities and various levels of vulnerability. The significance of informal and illegal safety nets means identifying existing networks is difficult in a country like Cuba, but important in order to identify the most vulnerable and develop adaptation strategies. In this context, it is likely that local level coping mechanisms will play an important role in reducing vulnerability.