Vulnerability Assessment: Seven Reasons To Do It

Why should you do vulnerability assessment?

In this changing climate, vulnerability assessment is becoming part of the planning process of the government. This is to know how to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

What you are about to read is based in one of my research project in Calbayog City, Samar, Philippines.

Before anything else, here’s a fact.

Do you know that Philippines is top three disaster risk country?

World Risk Report 2015
Philippines at number 3 in World Risk Report 2017

Visit this World Risk Report 2015 to know more about it.

Hence, it is fitting to do a in our country.

In my previous post, I have shown how to measure vulnerability to climate change.

This is based on the socioeconomic indicators that can be gathered from socioeconomic government data. In the Philippines, Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS)is the best source for this.

In fact, a pilot study was conducted by  Herminia using CBMS data as input in vulnerability index computation.

Read more of his study Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping here. 

 Why do we need to assess?

The question is why do we need to assess a specific area according to its vulnerability to climate variability?

As we all know, human beings depend so much on its surroundings or environment, however, human beings have been successful destroying the earth not so much on preserving it.

The earthquakes, typhoons and many other natural disasters are also a response to human activities. What we give to the environment will be returned to us hundred folds.

While this may sound prophetic, but I heard this personally from a friend who happened to be a professor in one of the universities in Tacloban City.

She said one day to her students,

Class don’t throw your garbage anywhere or in the sea, because someday this will come back to you.

Indeed, she was right.

What happened during Typhoon Haiyan was not just an environmental thing, it has its causes. Whatever it is, God knows more than science does.

With all the disasters we encounter, if we do not know how to adapt to these changes in climate, we will suffer. However, unless we know that we are also vulnerable or not, we cannot be prepared to face our future.

In this sense, vulnerability assessment is important for the following reasons.

My top 7 reasons to conduct vulnerability assessment

Read more on CARE Handbook to know more about it.

1. To inform us how ready are we when disaster comes

Photo: Stuart Miles/FreedigitalPhotos
Photo: Stuart Miles/FreedigitalPhotos

I remember a verse in the Bible:

My people will die for  lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6

Sad but true. Despite we have high technology today. Many don’t have the access to information especially on local settings.

The challenge here is that: People should have first hand information on their social condition. Well, of course they know their capacities, capabilities, but talking about disaster preparedness, I am unsure to this.

Not all people are ready when disaster comes.

That’s the hard truth.

2. To prepare ourselves in these last day events

Photo: Coward Lion/freedigitalphoto
Photo: Coward Lion/freedigitalphoto

If we have all this information at hand, we can then be prepared for whatever may happen. We cannot blame another the national government nor anyone else.

We are to be held accountable for our lives as well as others.

3. Vulnerability assessments serve as early warning system


Access to early warning systems is very important. Studies by CARE shows that both in Peru and Vietnam, lacks early warning systems and was recognized as a key contributor to vulnerability to extreme events.

4. A voice to vulnerable people


Vulnerable communities are at risk when disaster strikes. However, there are many responses that the government are doing to secure the lives of people.

But often times, these strategies are way too far implementable and applicable in the locale. Vulnerability assessments thus provides people the voice especially in decision-making process where most of the times made from a top-bottom approach.

By doing participatory decision-making through vulnerability assessments, it also ensures that adaptation initiatives are responsive to their needs, priorities and aspirations. (CARE)

5. To have effective and sustainable coping capacities

Photo:Stuart Miles

Again, most of the adaptation strategies doesn’t reflect the realities especially to ordinary people. Consider this sad example. Prior to Typhoon Yolanda, there were already warnings from the national government made through PAGASA. However, these warnings seemed too technical to ordinary people and they don’t understand the meaning of it.

STORM SURGE was the word of the day.

But people in Tacloban City don’t bother to listen to it.

Yes, PAGASA did what was right but in the end they failed. If only the media and the PAGASA said it in layman’s term, many lives will be spared.

(I am not reviving the issues back in those times, this is just an example that those top-bottom approach do not fit anymore today).

If TSUNAMI were announced, for sure many people would flee from their places.

Targeting local initiatives from the voice of the local people is important in adaptation to .

Local people know what’s best and what works for them.

6. Secure our resources

Photo: rattigon/freedigitalphoto
Photo: rattigon/freedigitalphoto

Many people depend on environmental resources for their livelihood, now because of changing climate those whose livelihood depend on these are affected.

As a result, people will resort to other means that is unsustainable which in turn damage our ecosystem.

I got here another case from CARE.

In Peru, people are clearing more forest to access land for agriculture. Not only is this damaging to the ecosystem, it is increasing risks of erosion and landslides, increasing people’s exposure to these hazards. Insecurity of land tenure or lack of land ownership is also a limiting factor for adaptation, as people may not see the value of investing in strategies that sustain ecosystems and can improve productivity and resilience over time.

7. To promote gender equality

Photo: Stuart Miles
Photo: Stuart Miles

Women and children are the most vulnerable to climate change. I don’t mean here that men is exempted to climate change. But often times, programs, policies, and projects are androcentric and some don’t require women to participate.

CARE shows that equitable adaptation requires an understanding of the dynamics of vulnerability. As their case studies demonstrate, gender influences these dynamics, and therefore vulnerability assessment must take gender differences into account.

These are my 7 reason why we should conduct vulnerability assessment to places which are prone to disaster.

Do you have suggestions to consider adding it here?

Feel free to comment.

Thank you.

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