Self-efficacy, aspiration, and the confidence to adapt can boost households’ resilience by reducing negative coping mechanisms and encouraging formal assistance.

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Emerging evidence gives insight into how to better understand the factors that drive resilience. Research needs to go beyond institutional and economic aspects of how people react to shocks. Future directions should examine perceptions, subjective motivations, and social/cognitive elements of individuals, households, and communities.


Previous research demonstrates people who don’t believe they can improve their economic position don’t make future investments. Self-efficacy, aspiration, and the confidence to adapt can boost households’ resilience. This is done by reducing negative coping mechanisms and encouraging them to seek formal assistance. Aspirations are pathways to resilience and development because they influence individual capabilities.


A survey conducted during the 2014/15 drought in Ethiopia’s lowland pastoral and agro-pastoral areas revealed differences in responses to crises between people with higher or lower senses of control over their lives. People with higher senses of control were less likely to engage in negative coping strategies. They also had a better ability to recover from shocks. Aspirations and confidence to adapt also increased household resilience to the drought.

Data from agro-pastoral and marginal agricultural areas of the Sahel show similar results. Households’ aspirations and confidence to adapt were positively associated with food security. They were also associated with an increased ability to recover from shocks.

Several recently conducted studies aim to identify the main determinants of resilience. Many stress the need to expand analysis beyond conventional factors (assets, capacities, capitals, or governance). Considering less tangible elements (risk perception, self-efficacy, or aspiration) may be more beneficial. Social, institutional, and economic mechanisms influencing people’s decisions around shocks and stressors need to be understood. But understanding individual, household, and community perceptions, motivations, and thoughts may be even more important.

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