In variation is the existing vulnerability condition in a

In
the context of natural disasters there has been considerable research
advancement to analyze why the damage outcomes are differential across the
economies and geographies. One of the common underlying cause for such
variation is the existing vulnerability condition in a given environmental and
spatial settings. Although defining vulnerability as a concept in a more applied
sense looks settled down, conceptually it is still subject to debates and
contests. These debates are generated when vulnerability as a concept is viewed
from the various scientific traditions. These body of scholarship
on the various vulnerability approaches broadly can be categorized into (i) risk-hazard
framework; (ii) political economy and/ ecology framework; (iii) resilience
framework; and (iv) integrated framework (Eakin and Luers 2006). To understand
the  conceptual evolution, and what
pathways it offers for the assessment, one can refer the listed literature in the
parenthesis (Cardona 2003; Adger et al. 2004; Brooks 2003; Birkman and Wisner 2006;
Fussel 2007; Fussel and Klein 2006; O’Brien et al. 2004; Adger 2006; Gallopin
2006; Fussel 2007; Smit and Wandel 2006) which also provides adequate explanation
on the vulnerability definitions and various frameworks, interdisciplinary
debate, various views describing about the risk that environmental hazard
generates, and how it is to be contextualized. Two prominent views emerge while
conceptualizing vulnerability: (i) vulnerability to be understood biophysical in
terms of hazard outcome; and (ii) vulnerability as a state existing in the
system irrespective of any interaction with the climate extremes (Brooks 2003).
 The Risk-Hazard (RH) framework in that sense provides extension to the
former with the later. It entails that what a system is vulnerable of, where,
and what consequences the system is subjected to. The focal point in this
analysis is the risk as a function of exposure and the resulting impacts. The
negative outcome is dependent upon both the biophysical factors and the
potential for the loss. In this formulation, hazard functions as one
determinant of risk as a damage causing potential physical event falling on a
system to a specific location with its intensity, frequency and probability. On
the other hand, vulnerability translates the relationship of realization of hazard
event to the damages it causes in terms of its severity and intensity. It also
further explains that the impacts are differential on different groups
depending upon the level of exposure, and the resources human settlements have
to cope. Contrarily, Political Economy Framework
deals with the questions of ‘who, how, and why’. This approach of vulnerability
assessment looks into analyzing the social and economic processes, the
interacting scales of causation, the social differences, and the institutional
conditions. As Adger and Kelly (1999) identifies, vulnerability is the state of
individual, groups or communities in the face of any external stress. It
entails their capability to cope and adapt with the available resources and the
entitlement upon them – the social and economic well-being are at the center of
the analysis focusing on the socio-economic and institutional constraints that
limit the capacity to respond. However, this framework considers stress as one
of those internal factors which makes individual and communities vulnerable (Ribot
2009). Vulnerability in this sense is the constraints set on the entitlements
by which an individual and group can express their capacity to cope with or
adapt to any stress. As entitlements are the source(s) of income and welfare
which an individual holds in the society realized as a set of alternate bundle
of commodity while using all rights and opportunities, hence vulnerability is
an absence of all these with previously held endowments. Therefore, the
determinants involve the factors that architect the entitlements, evolve over
time, and the levels are shaped by the political economy of formation and
distribution of entitlements.

In this sense vulnerability in the RH approach conveys the
‘geocentric reference’, whereas, the reference in political economy is
‘anthropocentric’ (Eakin and Luers 2006).

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