The Practical Use of Social Vulnerability Indicators in Disaster Management
As climate change focuses more frequent and intense disasters on vulnerable communities across the globe, mitigation and response resources need to be allocated more efficiently and equitably. Vulnerability assessments require time, skill, and cost money. In the United States (US), these assessments are mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to qualify for federal funding. However, new trends in the literature clearly question their practical value. This study begins with a focused literature review which demonstrates that popular social vulnerability indices that create a single vulnerability score can diminish the significance of a lone variable, overlook the relevancy of all interconnected variables, and can result in contradictory policy recommendations. Next, existing case studies that used popular vulnerability assessment frameworks were compared to maps generated of the same study area that employed the single variable of poverty. These case study comparisons demonstrated how considering this greatest common variable among different vulnerable groups can often - quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively - reveal close to the same county and sub-county level community vulnerabilities detailed in costly assessments. Finally, a national survey of emergency managers was conducted to determine how much current social vulnerability indices were actually governing the ongoing distribution of resources to the communities being served. Results indicate that, while these indicator models may be underused nationally, those who do find them effective tend to be from higher income areas. This study questions the practical value of these indices for emergency management practice in the US and for meeting the goals of the Sendai Framework and other compacts.
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Wood, Erik; Frazier, Tim (Emerald Insight, 2019-11-20)Current centralized humanitarian aid deployment practices may encourage urbanization thereby weakening short and long-term resiliency of lower-income countries receiving aid. The purpose of this study is first, to explore ...