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Our approach: 'From Vulnerability to Resilience' (V2R)

The incidence of disasters is increasing and climate change is expected to result in more frequent and severe hazards. Poor people's livelihoods will be the hardest hit. This is because they often live in risk prone areas and have few resources to protect themselves against disasters. Reducing people’s vulnerability to hazards will become increasingly important in the coming years, to reduce the impacts of disasters before they occur, rather than having to respond to disasters once they have caused widespread devastation.

Practical Action is working with communities to reduce the risks of disasters through strengthening disaster prepardness such as early warning systems, and preventing hazards through better environmental management, and by strengthening communities’ capacity to cope with disasters. 

From Vulnerability to Resilience: what is the V2R Framework?

Vulnerability is the degree to which a population or system is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, hazards and stresses, including the effects of climate change.  The causes of vulnerability are multi-dimensional. Vulnerability can be understood in terms of exposure to specific hazards such as earthquakes. It can also be understood as being connected to social and economic conditions, such as poor education or a lack of savings. Vulnerability is increased by the wider context of uncertainty. Future uncertainty such as climate change and economic trends are often not well understood. Furthermore, poor people have weak access to, and influence over, the institutions and policies that govern their access to resources and decision making, they can do little to address the underlying causes of their vulnerability.

The diagram below illustrates that people can be quickly pushed back into poverty by hazard events, or by unexpected changes in the climate. Resilient households and communities are able to recover promptly from hazards and adapt effectively to long term trends, and therefore able to use their resources and knowledge to step out of poverty.

Our approach, known as the V2R, sets out key factors that contribute to peoples' vulnerabilitiy: exposure to hazards and stresses; fragile livelihoods; future uncertainty; and weak governance. It provides detailed explanations of the linkages between these factors as well as ideas for action to strengthen resilience.

The framework was developed to address the need to work in a more integrated way and to tackle the causes and consequences of vulnerability.

The V2R Framework (Click on the framework to enlarge it)

Components of the V2R explained

Livelihoods

A livelihood comprises the resources (including skills, technologies and organizations) and activities required to make a living and have a good quality of life. Understanding livelihoods does not just mean looking at people’s main sources of employment or income. It means looking at all the different activities and choices within the household and community which provide food, health, income, shelter and other tangible benefits, such as comfort, safety, respect and fulfilment. The livelihood options available to individuals and households depend on the diversity of resources, skills and technologies they are able to access.

People with poor livelihood options are more likely to be forced into living or working in areas more exposed to hazards and stresses. They also have less alternative strategies to fall back on when shocks and hazards do occur.  For example, if a household only grows one crop, then if this crop fails they have nothing to fall back on in times of need. Building livelihood resilience means improving the diversity and security of people’s livelihoods so that people have more options available to them. This includes strengthening community organisations and forging links with service providers to build capacity and voice, and support access to assets, skills, technologies and markets for enhanced production, income and security. It also involves supporting access to and management of natural resources and ensuring secure living conditions.

Hazards and Stresses

Hazards and stresses come in many forms; they can be natural or manmade. Hazards are sudden and unexpected events such as earthquakes or cyclones. They can also be slower onset events such as droughts, floods and landslides. Stresses refer to smaller, low impact events and seasonal factors, including unemployment, price fluctuations, local conflicts and gradual changes in climate, which can undermine livelihoods. The poor are disproportionally affected by hazards and stresses. A livelihoods approach looks in detail at hazards and stresses but takes care to understand how and why people and their livelihood are exposed to and affected by such events. Poor people are often more exposed to hazards and stresses, due to a lack of knowledge or lack of choice for example, they are forced to live on steep slopes or in flood prone areas because they cannot afford to live elsewhere. The poor are therefore usually worst affected  by hazards because they do not have the capacities or resources to cope with them. Building resilience to hazards and stresses involves building capacity to analyse hazards and stresses; improving hazard prevention and protection; increasing early warning and awareness; establishing contingency and emergency planning and building back better.

Governance

Governance embraces a whole range of public and private, formal and informal organisations, policies, and processes, operating   on local, national and international levels. It is vital in building resilience because it determines how people can access resources, skills, technologies and markets to strengthen and diversify their livelihoods, how they protect themselves from hazards, and how they access support to help them recover when they are affected. For example, if local communities are not well connected with local government then they cannot fully plan for disaster risks or be part of the planning process for disaster response. Addressing governance issues at various levels is necessary to create an enabling environment in which people are able to better access and influence decision making processes, services and resources. Work to effectively address the governance context and the responsiveness of institutions and policy includes; advocating for decentralised and participatory decision making; strengthening links between local, district and national levels; promoting integrated approaches to livelihoods, disasters and climate change; and addressing underlying systemic issues causing vulnerability.

Future Uncertainty

Long term trends can have unpredictable effects on the natural, physical, social, technological and economic environment. This in turn contributes to uncertainty about the future viability of livelihoods under new conditions, and around the predictability of certain hazards and stresses such as climate change, fluctuating financial markets and rising food prices. Dealing with increasing uncertainty, including that which climate change brings, has led Practical Action to prioritise adaptive capacity.

Adaptive capacity refers to the combination of skills, assets, networks and institutions and policies that enable communities to continually assess their own situations against the current and emerging context and make appropriate changes to their lives and livelihoods. Learning and experimenting with new technologies and methodologies in local contexts is necessary for communities to adapt to change and to be able to make active choices for their livelihood strategies. For example, potato growers in Peru are suffering from erratic and changing weather conditions and are therefore suffering from a loss of crops which could be lessened if other types of local varities are used and more information about the weather is known. Communities will need to expand their knowledge and access to information if they are to understand the challenges of an uncertain future and develop responses to the emerging impacts of climate (and other trends such as urbanisation, increased food prices, fluctuating financial markets). To build resilience over time involves; raising awareness and recognition of trends and their local impacts; access to relevant and timely information relating to impacts and how to adapt to them; confidence and flexibility to learn and experiment in order to adapt.

Using the V2R

Using the V2R can help build community capacity to analyse their situation, to actively participate in local development planning and interventions, and to voice their demands or influence wider institutions where appropriate.

The V2R can prompt practitioners to see possible opportunities to make programmes more successful. For example, traditional food security projects have benefitted from  including disaster risk reduction interventions. In Bangladesh, the award winning ‘Disappearing Lands’ project aimed to increase food security of vulnerable families affected by floods. Interventions to address shocks and hazards of floods were highly successful in allowing food security initiatives to succeed.

In Sudan, projects have evolved from solely concentrating on food security initiatives such as investing in short duration crops (sorghum) to facilitating access routes for pastoralists (conflict resolution) and investing in community forests (livelihoods) to tackle future uncertainty. All of which contribute to strengthening food security.

Local needs are an important aspect of the V2R and this enables tangible benefits to be seen. For example, the localised approach in Nepal in the project 'Mainstreaming Livelihood Centred Disaster Risk Reduction' addressed very specific local needs of the community. Rather than generalised disaster risk approaches, the project addressed a specific hazard of wildlife intrusion which was destroying up to 75 per cent of crops. The project facilitated the installation of electric fencing which resulted in crop losses being reduced to nearly zero. In cost benefit terms, the cost ratio is 15.8 (benefits are 15 times higher than the initial investment costs).

The V2R framework is a means to an ends; the increased resilience of poor people’s livelihoods to multi hazards and an uncertain future in their local contexts. For further information please read 'From Vulnerability to Resilience: A framework for analysis and action to build community resilience'

Vulnerability to Resilience (V2R) framework

From vulnerability to resilience, or V2R, is a framework (see below) for analysis and action to reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience of individuals, household and communities.

V2R Handbook

From Vulnerability to Resilience (V2R)

Resilience in Practice

Briefing Paper on how Practical Action is working across the V2R framework, taking into account hazards and stresses, livelihoods, governance and future uncertainty. The paper uses six case studies from Practical Action's projects in Peru, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sudan and Kenya.

Programme briefing - From Vulnerability to Resilience

Practical Action has developed a framework to guide work which helps people move from vulnerability to resilience. This summary explores the concept of resilience and proposes strategies to incorporate it into all aspects of programming.

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