Reference Sheet AA
EVCA tools to explore vulnerability and capacity
Vulnerability and capacity are on the opposite sides of the same coin. Vulnerability covers weaknesses while capacity covers strengths. A disaster occurs when a hazard or threat strikes a vulnerable community. Physical, economic, human, social, natural, geographical and political factors determine the level of vulnerability and the extent of a community’s or household’s capacity to resist, cope with and recover from hazards. Poverty is a major contributor to vulnerability through exposure. Poor people are more likely to live and work in areas exposed or geographically vulnerable to hazards, while they are less likely to have the resources to cope when a hazard strikes. A vulnerability assessment aims to answer the question, “What makes the community, or particular groups within the community, vulnerable to a given hazard, and where in the
community are these vulnerable people located?”
In addition to vulnerability, a disaster‑prone community will also always possess capacities at various levels (common, household and individual levels). The capacity assessment answers the question, “What strengths are available at the individual, household and community levels that can be mobilised and accessed to reduce the impact of a specific hazard?” What capacities (human, social, economic, physical, natural, geographical), within but also outside of the community, can be mobilised and accessed to reduce the negative impacts of a given hazard?
Brainstorm vulnerable groups
When a hazard or threat affects a community, people that are more vulnerable will be affected the most. It is important to identify vulnerable groups in the community and specify for each group what their particularities are.
The resilience team should refer back to these identified groups when analysing vulnerability and capacity, and later, when action planning. All interventions to reduce risk should benefit the whole community and/or have a specific focus on these most at‑risk groups. Some key groups to consider are:
People of different age groups, including older people, youth and children.
People with disabilities: people with visual, hearing, cognitive or physical impairments.
People from different religious, ethnic, linguistic or migrant groups or stateless people. (For definitions of different categories of migrants, refer to the Media‑Friendly Glossary on Migration (ILO 2014).)
Pregnant and lactating women.
Record the identified vulnerable groups and the specific vulnerabilities they face, using a table such as the one below.
What makes them vulnerable?