Though drought is a recurrent phenomenon in the Jinghe watershed, very little attention has been paid to drought mitigation and preparedness. This article presents a method for the spatial assessment of agricultural drought risk in the Jinghe watershed of western China at a 1-km grid scale. A conceptual framework, which emphasizes the combined roles of hazard and vulnerability in defining risk, is used. The Z index method in a GIS environment is used to map the spatial extent of drought hazards. The key social and physical factors that define agricultural drought in the context of the Jinghe watershed are indentified and corresponding thematic maps are prepared. Risk is calculated by the integration of hazard and vulnerability. Results show that the risk gradient follows a north—south and west—east tendency and that agricultural droughts pose the highest risk to northern and northwestern sections of the Jinghe watershed.
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