GUIDANCE FOR ASSESSING VULNERABILITY (See: http://weadapt.org/knowledge-base/vulnerability/guidance-for-assessing-vulnerability):Step 1: identify climate vulnerability exposureKey questions: Who is vulnerable? What are the present and future stresses and threats?Step 2: Assess climate conditions and trendsKey questions:What are the major climate variables of concern currently?How do they vary spatially?Step 3: Identify hazardsKey questions:What are the identified hazards and its spatial dynamics?Step 4: Analyse impacts of climate changeKey questions:Where are these impacts known to occur?Where are the impacts of these hazards likely to be felt?Step 5: Understand trends in the climateKey questions:What are the documented historical trends in these hazards?Is the nature and location of these hazards changing? And if so, how?
Examples of assets:H: knowledge of climate risks, conservation agriculture skills, good health to enable labourS: Women’s savings and loans groups, farmer-based organizationsP: Irrigation infrastructure, seed and grain storage facilitiesN: Reliable water source, productive landF: Micro-insurance, diversified income sources
Trends: Population, resource, conflict trends, national/international economic trends, trends in governance (including politics), techonological trends.Shocks: Human health shocks, natural shocks, economic shocks, conflict, crop/livestock health shocks.Seasonality: of prices, of production, of health, of employment opportunities.
The vulnerability context frames the external environment in which people exist. People’s livelihoods and the wider availability of assets are fundamentally affected by critical trends, shocks and seasonality –over which they have limited or no control. The factors shaping the vulnerability context are important because they have a direct impact upon people’s asset status and the options that are open to them in pursuit of beneficial livelihood outcomes. Shocks can destroy assets directly (e.g. floods, storms, civil conflict)Trends have an important influence on the choice of livelihood strategies –they tend to be more predictableSeasonal shifts in prices, employment opportunities and food availability are one of the greatest and most enduring sources of hardship for poor people in developing countries.
The analysts need to describe storylines that indicate how livelihoods might change, how climate might change and how these sensitivities might change (for example with new technology).
Note: Level of magnitude or potential impact can range from ‘1’=low to ‘3’= high; potential impact can be either ‘+’= positive or ‘-’= negative.
Training module on vulnerability assessment (I)
Social vulnerability analysis –
linking poverty, livelihoods and climate
Climate Adaptation training in SE Asia –SEI Oxford and SEI Asia.
Building on work from SEI colleagues and Agnes Otzelberger (CARE-PECCN)
• Various definitions:
– Ordinary use–capacity to be wounded.
– Scientific use of ‘vulnerability’ –roots in
geography and natural hazards research. But
the term is now central in a variety of
– IPCC definition:
• “The degree to which a system is suscpetible to, or unable to cope
with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability
For further definitions see: http://weadapt.org/knowledgebase/vulnerability/vulnerability-definitions
Adaptation addresses differential impacts of
climate change on people, communities, sectors,
• 3 components of vulnerability (IPCC vuln. definition cont’d):
– Exposure is the degree of climate stress a system or
community is subjected to
– Sensitivity refers to the impact climate stresses have on
the system or community
– Adaptive capacity is the ability of the system or community
to adjust to the changes
– Variations between social groups, spaces, scales
– Variations over time
Vulnerability and capacity: Why
• Vulnerability to climate change: exposure, sensitivity, and
capacity depend on roles, responsibilities, access, control,
culture… result of power relations
• Different groups within a community have different but
complementary roles, knowledge, capacities, experience
Social determinants of vulnerability &
• Effective, equitable adaptation requires
understanding of vulnerability dynamics
within the community and within
• Gender influences these dynamics as do
• What other social factors determine
climate change vulnerability and why?
Key concepts in differential
Rights-based approach –rights of all are
respected, including the most vulnerable
• Gender equality
– Equal rights, opportunities, resources & rewards
– Not governed by whether an individual is born
male or female
• Gender equity
– Recognition of unequal power relations
– Distributional justice
Key gender analysis questions
Who does what? How?
Where? When? Why?
Who knows what? How?
When? Where? Why?
(information = power)
Who uses what? How?
Where? When? Why?
Who benefits from what?
How? When? Where?
Who controls what?
Where? When? Why?
Who is included in what?
How? When? Where? Why?
Vulnerability frameworks &
For an overview of different vulnerability frameworks see: http://weadapt.org/knowledgebase/vulnerability/vulnerability-frameworks
What is involved at each level?
Discussion sessions and analysis
Training of local facilitators
Participatory and Reflect approaches
Stakeholders and focal group meetings
Local level advocacy and lobbying
Documentation and liaison
Studies on selected issues
National level advocacy and lobbying
Exchange visits and monitoring
National level workshops
Co-ordination and documentation
Technical support to countries involved
Policy and advocacy work
Why is important the vulnerability lenses?
• Climate impacts do and will differ:
– For different people (individuals, HHs, communities)
– For different sectors (health, agriculture, fisheries,
– In different areas (villages, towns, cities, districts)
– At different scales (local, national, regional, intnl.)
– At different times (present, next 10 yrs, 50 yrs)
– Specific climatic stresses & shocks experienced may
– In a single area, some livelihoods will be affected while
others might not
– People’s responses differ –coping & adaptation
Key questions on vulnerability
• Who (or what livelihood groups or sectors) is vulnerable?
• What are the present and future stresses and threats?
• What are they (specifically) vulnerable to?
• Why are they vulnerable?
• What can be done to lessen this vulnerability?
• Done by whom, with what money?
Vulnerability is different from poverty
• Poverty does not equal vulnerability
• Vulnerability is a characteristic of all people,
ecosystemes and regions confronting environmental and
socio-economic stresses and shocks.
• Poverty is a reduced (or completely lack of) access to
material, economic, social, political or cultural resources
needed to satisfy basic needs.
• BUT, the poor are vulnerable in particular ways
• Livelihood analysis helps to explore how and why the
poor are vulnerable
• A livelihood…
– ‘Comprises the capabilities, assets (stories,
resources, claims and access) and activities
required for a means of living.
– Is sustainable when can cope with and
recover from stress and shocks, maintain or
enhance its capabilities and assets, and
provide sustainable livelihood opportunities
for the next generation’
Chambers and Conway, 1992
The five livelihood assets
1. Human assets: skills, knowledge and
info, ability to work, health
2. Natural assets: land, water, wildlife,
3. Financial assets: savings, credit,
4. Physical assets: transport, shelter,
5. Social assets: networks, groups,
trust, access to institutions
Linking livelihoods & vulnerability
1. What are the livelihoods at risk?
2. What are the climatic stresses?
3. What are the most sensitive livelihoods &
4. What indicators represent livelihoods and
5. What are the outcomes?
6. What are the driving forces?
Why explore social vulnerability?
• To analyze current vulnerability of local communities to
changes in climate in the context of multiple stresses
and development processes
• Recognize inherent complexity and uncertainty in
evolution of various factors
• Identify opportunities for enhancing local adaptive
capacity to deal with new and emerging risks associated
with climate change
• Inform targeted interventions
Steps in conducting a VA:
1. Define study area
together with stakeholders
Select the spatial and temporal scale of the assessment
2. Get to know place over
Study context to understand the socio-ecological dynamics
that may influence vulnerability
3. Hypothesize who is
vulnerable to what
Select the climate hazard that will be analysed, along with
the people, assets, and/or ecosystems services that may
be harmed by the identified hazard.
4. Develop a causal model
Elaborate a model explaining factors, and relationships
among the factors, that lead to vulnerability
5. Find indicators for the
elements of vulnerability
Metrics to characterise different parts of the causal model
(i.e. decide what is quantifiable and what must be omitted)
6. Operationalize model(s)
Weight and combine indicators to produce a measure of
vulnerability; overly different indicators on a map
7. Project future vulnerability Scenarios of the vulnerability variables reflecting trends and
expert opinion. Clear explanation of
assumptions/uncertainties around the scenarios.
Products from the VA (e.g. reports, maps, websites, photos,
(Hammill et al., 2013)
Tools and methods for vulnerability
Livelihood-exposure sensitivity matrix -Objectives
• Identify the key climate stressors in Lombok/The
Philippines is currently vulnerable to
• Understand impacts and consequences of those
• Highlight who/what is most and least vulnerable
• Form a basis from which to explore future
vulnerabilities under climate change
Livelihood-exposure sensitivity matrix (cont’d)
threats & trends
Social group 1
Social group 2
Social group 3
(e.g. prolonged dry
Climate threat 2
(e.g. strong winds,
sea level rise)
Climate threat 3/
(e.g. pest invasion,
• weADAPT.org > vulnerability initiative
• Vulnerability, Adger (2006) in Global Environmental Change
• Linking vulnerability, adaptation and resilience science to
practice, Vogel et al (2007)
• CARE’s Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Handbook (2010)
• Vulnerability Indices Review, Fussel (2010)
• Measuring vulnerability to promote disaster-resilient societies:
Conceptual frameworks & desfinitons, Birkmann
• Indicators of vulnerability and adaptive capacity: towards a
clarification of the science-policy interface, Hinkel (2011)
Chambers, R. and Conway, G.R. (1992) ‘Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: Practical
Concepts for the 21st Century’, Discussion Paper 296. Brighton, UK: Institute of
Downing, T. et al. (2001). Vulnerability indices. Climate Change Impacts and
Adaptation. UNEP, Policy Series 3: 91 pp.
Downing, T.E., Aerts, J., Soussan, J., Barthelemy, O., Bharwani, S., Ionescu, C.,
Hinkel, Jl, Klein, R.j.T., Mata, L., Moss, Sl, Purkey, Dl and Ziervogel, G. (2006)
Integrating social vulnerability into water management. Oxford, Stockholm
Environment Institute, Oxford.
O’Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Nygaard, L.P. & Schjollden, A. (2007) Why different
interpretations of vulnerability matter in climate change discourses, Climate Policy,
7: 1, 73-88
Fussel, H.M. (2009). Review and quantitative analysis of indices of climate change
exposure, adaptive capacity, sensitivity, and impacts.Background note. Potsdam
Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Germany.
Hammill, A., Bizikova, L., Dekens, J., McCandless, M. 2013. Comparative analysis
of climate change vulnerability assessments: Lessons from Tunisia and Indonesia.