Mains Marks Booster     5th August 2023        

Vulnerability is the human dimension of disasters and is the result of the range of economic, social, cultural, institutional, political, and psychological factors that shape people’s lives and the environment that they live in. Vulnerability describes the characteristics and circumstances of a community, system or assets that make it susceptible to the damaging effects of hazards.

Vulnerability= Exposure + Resistance + Resilience 

Exposure - at-risk property and population

Resistance- measures taken to reduce, avoid or prevent loss.

Resilience – the ability to recover the prior state or achieve desired post-disaster state.

Factors of vulnerability:

Factors of vulnerability

India’s Vulnerability Profile:

  1. Due to its unique geo-climatic and socioeconomic conditions, India is significantly vulnerable to numerous natural and man-made disasters. These include floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, and forest fires. 
  2. 75% of its regions are disaster-prone, with 58.6% of landmass susceptible to earthquakes and 12% to floods and river erosion. Moreover, 68% of the cultivable area is drought-vulnerable, while hilly regions risk landslides and avalanches.
  3. India, one of the top ten disaster-prone countries worldwide, faces such risks due to several factors including adverse geo-climatic conditions, environmental degradation, population growth, and non-scientific development practices. Every distinctive region of the country, from the Himalayan region to the coastal zone, has its specific disaster risks.
  4. India's geological setup contributes to its increased vulnerability. For instance, the Himalayan region and adjacent plains are susceptible to earthquakes and landslides due to their geo-tectonic features. 
  5. Even the more stable peninsular India experiences occasional earthquakes. The alluvial plains of the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra are similarly prone to seismic activities and floods due to their geological connections with the Himalayas.
  6. Western India, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, and parts of Maharashtra, frequently face droughts, which can extend country-wide with worsening monsoons. Oceanic pressure disturbances lead to coastal cyclones, and ongoing geo-tectonic movements risk tsunamis.
  7. India's disaster vulnerability is further aggravated by human activities such as deforestation, unscientific development, improper agricultural practices, unplanned urbanization, and large dam constructions on river channels. These factors accelerate disaster impact and frequency.
India’s Vulnerability Profile

Vulnerability lessened by interventions at a number of points:

  • Impact avoidance - mitigation, action to eliminate risk during a disaster.
  • Increasing knowledge related to vulnerability and risk.
  • Increase capacities to cope or adopt.
  • Lessen sensitivities to exposure.
  • Lessen exposure to perturbations and stress.
  • Well-organized response.

Since we cannot reduce the occurrence and severity of natural hazards, reducing vulnerability is one of the main opportunities for reducing disaster risk. Since we cannot reduce the occurrence and severity of natural hazards, reducing vulnerability is one of the main opportunities for reducing disaster risk.