This field research investigated the livelihoods of rural communities in Nawalparasi District, Nepal. An adapted form of the Delphi technique was used to assess community perceptions regarding factors which affected their livelihoods. The six most significant factors were selected by participants and ranked in order of importance. Research findings indicated that important factors across communities included those related to water resources, education, health and roads. Climate and environmental change were found to be impacting on livelihoods, and results indicated that education and environmental awareness were two key factors affecting a community's ability to adapt to change. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.