Social vulnerability, sustainable livelihoods and disasters

Social vulnerability, sustainable livelihoods and disasters

Investigating methodologies for vulnerability assessments and their links with the sustainable livelihoods approach

In 1997 the UK Department for International Development (DFID) adopted the priorities of the White Paper on International Development recognising the significance of socio-economic factors in making individuals vulnerable to disaster. A major component of this Paper is the promotion of sustainable livelihoods as the means by which people improve their living conditions.

In response to difficulties in consistently incorporating disasters and risk reduction within overall humanitarian policy, and limits in being able to link relief to sustainability, the authors propose that poverty reduction through sustainable livelihoods must be supported in the disaster context. Through this process it is expected that links can be strengthened between the sustainable livelihoods approach and vulnerability reduction.

This objective of this report is to demonstrate an enhanced capability to develop policy for reducing social vulnerability to hazards by presenting:

  • information and analysis to improve the mainstreaming of vulnerability awareness within development assistance
  • an initial survey of vulnerability analysis methods
  • an inventory of existing work on vulnerability analysis

The authors present four case studies demonstrating vulnerability analysis methodologies:

  • Capacities and Vulnerabilities Analysis (CVA): involves a matrix for viewing vulnerability and capacity in 3 areas; physical/material, social/organisational, motivational/attitudinal
  • Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA): developed by the IFRC involves a 92 page "toolbox" of 3 steps; identify potential ‘threats’, identify vulnerabilities, assess capacities to prevent or cope with threats
  • Risk Mapping and Local Capacities: a straightforward process of analysing the threat or hazard, analysing the risk, and analysing the vulnerability therefore the relationship between risk, local capacity and living conditions
  • Household Livelihood Security Assessment: formulated for a country or region by using a set of analytical lenses clustered under several categories.

Each methodology is individually assessed and the report concludes with an extensive inventory of current methods and documents on the work of vulnerability analysis.

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