What Is Resilience?
Why Resilience Matters
Chronic poverty and recurrent shocks are driving many of the same communities into crisis year after year. From acute events like disease outbreaks, extreme weather and political instability, to protracted issues such as weak governance, social exclusion and climate change, shocks and stressors have been increasing in frequency.
The 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa — resulting in more than 250,000 deaths from famine — is an example of a catastrophic event that created a sense of urgency for a different approach to mitigating the effects of disaster. The cost of recurrent crisis is high — loss of life, livelihoods, and aspirations, loss of national and regional economies, and loss of development gains.
Building Resilience Helps People Escape Poverty
Evidence provides insights into what enables people to adapt to adversity — sources of resilience — as well as interventions and investments that work. A growing body of data illustrates that strengthening these capacities helps to achieve the development goals of ending hunger and poverty. More than a buzz word, resilience can be measured.
Building resilience requires strengthening the capacities that help people and systems to:
- Absorb shocks by minimizing exposure to them and changing behavior to deal with the impact.
- Adapt through measures that identify and manage risks over the longer term.
- Transform as the underlying conditions are changed.
In crisis, people experience different levels of risk by managing their assets, structure, processes and livelihood strategies.
Their ability to mitigate, adapt to, and recover is evident in their well-being outcomes.
Focuses on Capacities over Vulnerabilities
Shifting the focus from deficits and vulnerabilities to the assets, abilities and agency of people and systems means treating people and places subject to recurrent crises as development priorities, rather than perpetual humanitarian risks.
Promotes Early Investment and Proactive, Adaptive Initiatives
The recurring nature of shocks and stressors requires early investment to reduce and manage risks, proactive efforts across sectors and flexible programming to reduce chronic vulnerability and facilitate inclusive growth.