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There is growing concern about climate change impacts on people with low level of resilience and resources. Climate change is a relatively new phenomenon that is not adequately understood by policy makers and development practitioners. The policy regime for climate change adaptation and mitigation is developing better as impacts become visible and strategies to cope with these changes are better understood from experience.
It has been observed that climate change is causing extreme weather events, and the at the frequency and severity of natural disasters such as floods and droughts has increased manifold over the past fifty years, most probably due to the increased pace of climate change. With more than xxx percent of the world population living below the poverty line, te he brunt of these impacts seems to have fallen on the poor of the world. People with low socio-economic status tend to have limited access to monetary and non monetary resources, are more often renters, have less education and poorer health, and are more likely to be dependent on public social services (Krokstad, 2004, Gulbrandsen & Andersen, 2006). These are people who are socially and economically marginalized, and "vulnerable" to climate change impacts and impacts of natural disasters.
Vulnerability is a complex term in characterization and its usage depends on the context and meaning. It is not a subject, an object or a system. It is a 'state of being' or the 'characteristic' of the subject or object within a system. Vulnerability can be either dynamic or static depending upon the nature of system in which it exists. Living organisms such as human beings, plants, animals, have different elements that may cause vulnerability to thrive and destabilize the system. The vulnerability of non-living organisms can also be detrimental for the whole system such as vulnerability of a place (higher probability of earthquake). Thus, vulnerability is an innate qualification of a subject or an object within a system that can be minimized or lessened but cannot be completely eliminated. For instance, a very rich person may be vulnerable to viral infections, epidemics, accidents, that have probability of injury, loss of productive time and loss of life. Similarly, a very poor person can be vulnerable to many factors but resilient to those to which a rich person is vulnerable. This shows that vulnerability depends on the context, conditions and the capacity of the subject or object. Theoretically, all living and non-living organisms are vulnerable to different extent in place and time context. The degree or intensity of vulnerability differs depending on the probability of occurrence within a system.
The term 'vulnerability' is used in different disciplines with varying connotations. It has largely been used in disciplines of environment, geography and development studies for its conceptualization and understanding (Gilbert, 1995; Hewitt, 1983;1995; Liverman, 1990a; Dow, 1992; Dow and Downing, 1995; Timmerman, 1981). In the literature of risk, hazard and disasters, Gabor and Griffith (1980), Timmerman (1981), Pijawka and Radwan (1985), Bogard (1989), Smith (1992), Cutter (1993), and Blaikie et al., (1994) conceptualized vulnerability as a threat, a characteristic that causes damage to the system, improbability to detect a hazard, time and spatial specific, likelihood of exposure and capacity to anticipate, cope, resist and recover from natural hazards. The fuzziness and contradictions in the meanings of vulnerability rests on the epistemological orientations and methodological practices (Cutter, 1996). The literature on vulnerability was devoid of human welfare dimension and lacked an integrated approach until Bohel et al. (1994) defined it "as an aggregate measure of human welfare that integrates environmental, social, economic and political exposure to a range of potential harmful perturbations." Dow and Downing (1995) took it one step ahead by incorporating biophysical, demographic, economic, social and technological factors such as population ages, economic dependency, racism and age of infrastructure in the understanding of vulnerability. Given the internal contradiction and diversity of the term, the interdisciplinary content and cultural dimensions in the vulnerability discourse were debated considerably (Oliver-Smith, 1996; Alwang et al., 2000; Adger, 2006; McLaughlin and Dietz, 2007).
In the context of the literature on hazards, vulnerability can be defined as the condition of a system ahead of the occurrence of a disaster. Similarly, vulnerability can also be defined in terms of the likelihood of the outcome of the losses of a system measured in the form of economic or human life losses. Once the level of a certain hazard has been determined, one needs to assess the exposure it presents to the people, their assets and the environment. If exposure of people and their property to hazards is reduced (as demonstrated by people moving to cyclone shelters in Bangladesh), the potential of damage to life and assets is dramatically reduced, and vice versa.
The dictionary definition of the word 'vulnerability' is "capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or open to attack or damage  ." In social sciences, the term vulnerability means susceptible to measureable variables such as quality of life, provision of health and education facilities, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, etc. It is important to take an integrated approach to the concept of vulnerability. Brooks (2003) explains that "the social science approach is to focus mostly or entirely on socially constructed vulnerability, and to pay little attention to the hazard component. In this way there is a danger that social vulnerability is examined in a vacuum that ignores the wider risk context." According to Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA), vulnerability encompasses conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes, which increase the susceptibility of a community to the impact of hazards (UN/ISDR, 2004).
The UN/ISDR definition of vulnerability is comprehensive in its analytical content and rich in its conceptualization. Cardona (2004) underlines the fact that the concept of vulnerability helped to clarify the concepts of risk and disaster. Other related concepts such as hazard, resilience, mitigation and adaptation are mostly defined in literature in the context of vulnerability.
It is difficult to measure vulnerability when the concept is still fuzzy, and no one definition exists without confusion and contradictions. However, Birkmann (2006) accepts this dilemma as "we are still dealing with a paradox: we aim to measure vulnerability, yet we cannot define it precisely."
The concept of vulnerability can be divided into different types such as individual vulnerability, vulnerability of a group, social vulnerability, vulnerability of a place, biophysical vulnerability and spatial and non-spatial vulnerability. There may be a point of disagreement about the origin of different types of vulnerabilities but in a broader sense the agreed definition infers 'a potential for loss' (Cutter, 1996).
Among different types of vulnerabilities, the concept of social vulnerability is much more than the likelihood of a building collapsing and infrastructure being damaged (Cannon et al., 2003). Some authors have contextualized social vulnerability from the perspective of individual characteristics such as age, gender, race and ethnicity, education, employment, income, etc. (Cutter et al., 2000, O'Brien and Mileti, 1992, Hewitt 1997, Ngo 2001, Blaikie et al. 1994, Pulido 2000, Mileti 1999, Peacock et al. 2000 and Cutter et al. 2003). Cannon et al. (2003) provide a set of individual characteristics that describe diverse aspects of social vulnerability such as nutritional status, physical and mental health, assets and capital, income and qualification, willingness for a safe house, social and political networks and institutional linkages.
There is also no definite conceptualization of social vulnerability as different authors use it differently (Birkmann 2006). The concept of social vulnerability provides immense flexibility as it could deal with various processes, methods and features that are linked with socially constructed vulnerabilities. The current literature on social vulnerability has not restricted itself to only social fragilities but also includes built environment, urbanization, economic vitality, etc. (Cutter et al. 2003). The discussion is also not confined to socio-economic impact of the hazard but it recount the historical deprivation as well as poor contemporary planning that causes exposure of non-resilient population. This phenomenon is explained as first and second order impacts of hazards (Carreno et al., 2005, Cardona and Hurtado, 2000). The concept of social vulnerability carries various aspects of 'vulnerability' that are driven mainly from multiple stresses and differential exposure deeply rooted in attributes of human actors and social networks (Downing et al. 2006). The research on social vulnerability has crossed its traditional border of socio-economic impact of hazards on various attributes of individuals and entered into the terrain of linkages between individual characteristics and the physical environment. The social vulnerability concept can also be viewed as a dynamic rather than a static concept because it not only acknowledge the current vulnerabilities (lack of coping capacity and resilience) but also forecasts potential vulnerabilities in the future (lack of mitigation strategies).
Social capacity building techniques can target both aspects of social vulnerability (internal and external). It may help to lessen the vulnerability due to external factors through influencing more over-arching risk governance, emergency response or even targeting areas of social inequality. For internal factors, the approach becomes a more personalized process focused on enhancing and improving the level of perceived risk, building motivation and a sense of responsibility within individuals and communities to manage and mitigate their own risk (Tapsell et al., 2010). Procedural and institutional frameworks should be designed as it is important to define actors, funding flows and types of policies that must be linked to support successful community led adaptation strategies.
Different risk cultures or risk environments which exist between and within regions also need to be examined to help understand social vulnerability in distinct national, local and cultural contexts and in relation to specific and different types of natural hazards. For instance, there is considerable difference in local culture and traditions between the province of Punjab and Sindh and after flood 2010 and 2011, the studies shown that government and international agencies have to adopt innovative strategies due different risk cultures.
In recent years, the extreme weather patterns and increase in natural disasters has compelled policy makers to deliberate seriously about "climate change". Although disaster events are probabilistic events and their occurrence can only be calculated from probability analyses, it is important to understand the consequences of the occurrence, the factors that determine the risk and the vulnerability of affected people. The literature on climate change and social vulnerability is mostly contextualized from the perspective of disaster risk management. As discussed above, social vulnerability is also a contesting theme like vulnerability. When it comes to understanding the link between climate change and social vulnerability, the analytical framework is based on disaster risk reduction or disaster management. In a number of disaster risk management case studies, the appropriate contextualization of the term social vulnerability in relation to disaster management was conducted by the German Society of International Cooperation (GTZ, 2004) as "a multidimensional concept encompassing a large number of factors that can be grouped into physical, economical, social and environmental factors."
Improvement in risk reduction and disaster preparedness to natural hazards requires foremost the identification and assessment of various vulnerabilities of societies, economies, institutional structures and environmental resource bases through tools to measure vulnerability (Birkmann and Wisner, 2006). The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 underlines the fact that the impacts of disasters on social, economic and environmental conditions should be examined through indicators or indicator systems to assess vulnerability. The importance of institutions in determining vulnerability to climate change was illustrated in 1991-92 when an "apocalyptic" drought in southern Africa caused grained yields in ten states to drop 56 percent below normal year and 17-20 million people were exposed to starvation (Green, 1993). Despite the magnitude of the problem, a combination of national and international policy helped avert disease and death in countries with functioning governments (Evan et al., 2010). Therefore, understanding whether livelihoods are vulnerable to climate change also involves assessing the institutions that are working in society that allow for a collective response to a problem.
Climate change is a reality of the twenty-first century. Its impact is global and it requires global efforts to strategize and plan by pooling resources. The literature on climate change and social vulnerability has vividly described and established links between human beings and their social, economic, political and built environment. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude, and rate of climate change and variation to which a system is exposed, its sensitivity, and its adaptive capacity (IPCC, 2007 b). Social vulnerability in the context of climate change can be defined as the degree to which humans are susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. The complexity of the issue has raised questions about the validity and scientific evidence of climate change impact on social vulnerability. It is important for researchers to carve out and isolate the impact of climate change on social vulnerability because "social vulnerability is often hidden, complex and nested in various human aspects and contingencies bound to different levels of society" (Fekete, 2008). Understanding the differential impacts of climate change on different groups and linking it to social vulnerability of groups is a complex and problematic proposition. Certain factors in a society contribute to social vulnerability as Watts and Bohle (1993) suggest that "analysis of vulnerability as social phenomenon also has a long tradition with cultural geography and the critical questions of food security and famine." The questions of security (food and otherwise) and different levels of stresses in a group has been extensively discussed in climate change and social vulnerability literature. There is a peculiar definition of 'stress' in social dialect that defines forced adaptation to climate change due to complete or partial elimination of livelihoods opportunities of groups or individuals. The loss or reduction of livelihood opportunities as a result of exposure to hazard of groups of people or individuals can also be termed as social vulnerability. Adger et al. (2001) viewed social vulnerability as disruption of livelihoods and loss of security. In most of the cases, the underlying social and economic situation, lack of income and resources and war and civil strife conflicts are responsible for stresses to vulnerable groups (Chambers, 1989). A social vulnerability framework that can also be termed as 'architect of entitlements' that determines why and how adaptive actions are constrained and what resources are available that formed the basis of adaptive measures was developed in the 1990s (Watts and Bohle 1993; Adger and Kelly 1999; Kelly and Adger 2000).
Climate change is also sometimes viewed as an opportunity. Some authors have acknowledged the fact that climate change is an eye opener for human beings. One of the speakers in the Security Council of the UN's Special Session in 2007 emphasized that "climate change can bring us together, if we have the wisdom to prevent it from driving us apart" (UN, 2007). From the standpoint of global order, peace and sustainable development are two major global challenges that are posing serious threats to future global development prospects. "Ironically, climate change offers humanity an opportunity for a quantum leap in sustainable development and peacemaking" (Wisner, Fordham et al., 2007). The relationship between climate change and social change is seen as positive integers that embody greater human security. O'Brien (2007) regards climate change as one of the greatest opportunities in history for addressing inequities and enhancing human security, and as an extraordinary opportunity for responding to and creating social change.
The threat of global climate change is challenging the adaptive capacity and calls for measures to enhance resilience in the short-run as well as in the long-run. Climate change and social vulnerability are now at the centre of the debate on sustainable development. With increasing population, development needs have increased exponentially and require some compromise on environmental protection and adaptive measures. Adger and Kelly (2001) argue that "in effect, the response to long term environmental change is facilitated and constrained by the same architecture of entitlements as adaptation to other, more immediate social and environmental stresses."
The policy regime has also played an important role in maintaining a balance between resources use and developmental needs. Blaikie and Brookfield (1987) emphasized both social and economic determinants of resources use and resource degradation, as well as highlighting policy-relevant interventions and solutions to environmental challenges. Diverse and innovative approaches to social vulnerability impact assessment could provide policy relevant rationale of current environmental stress as well as long term resource conservation strategies. This can be achieved by interlinking governance mechanisms with climate change adaptation. In this regard, some authors suggest that "policy makers' social position as representatives of the prevailing political and economic structures and many vulnerability analyst's concern with fundamental inequities of the social structures and the need for systematic change" (Hewitt 1983, Wisner et al. 2004). The institutional response to policy change is essential in determining the priorities and subsequently setting the goals and direction of change. Individual and collective social vulnerabilities are intrinsically linked through political economy of markets and institutions (Adger and Kelly 2001). It is important to distinguish what is meant by individual as oppose to collective social vulnerability. The obvious difference is in scale and quantum of deterministic variables. For instance, the level of infrastructure and institutional response can be crucial factors for collective social vulnerability assessment while level of poverty and inequality can provide better understanding of social vulnerability at individual level. However, these determining variables have overlapping tendencies when applied in different spatial settings.
Hazard and vulnerability are mutually inclusive conditions and neither can exist on its own. This means hazard is a pre-condition for a subject to be vulnerable. Cardona (2004) concludes that "vulnerability is a condition which cannot occur on its own. One cannot be vulnerable if one is not threatened, and one cannot be threatened if one is not exposed and vulnerable." However, hazard analysis is a complicated process that involves determining the types of hazards affecting a certain area with a specific intensity and re-currency period.
Global poverty is increasing with increasing threat of climate change. The impact of climate change will increase the level of poverty if recognition, acceptance and adaptation are not prioritize and implemented. On the other hand, in the last fifty years the production and accumulation of wealth has remained unprecedented in the human history. Thus, climate change has exacerbated inequality in the world. The link between climate change and inequality is intense and problematic. Adger and Kelly (2001) have explored direct and indirect causal links between inequality and vulnerability by looking at the patterns of resource allocation and pooling of risk at communal level. They explain that "inequality affects vulnerability directly through constraining the options of households and individuals when faced with external shock; and indirectly through its links to poverty and other factors." Watts (1991) and Davis (1996) have shown that in agricultural societies, both income and wealth are important in coping strategies under conditions of drought. The ownership of land or property, savings, livestock and other fungible assets are critical sources of coping strategies. In the absence of income and disposable capital assets and increasing inequality over time, climate change impacts on social vulnerability will further deteriorate the coping capacity of the community/individuals. One of the major causes that enhance social vulnerability at community level is the increasing inequality and higher incidence of poverty. Poverty marginalizes a larger section of the population by putting a barrier (nepotism, corruption) on acquiring benefits from social protection measures. Higher incidence of poverty for longer period produces acute vulnerability. Yasim et al. (2005) explain that "although vulnerability is not defined as poverty, but today's poverty is yesterday's unaddressed vulnerability."
Frameworks of Vulnerability Assessment
The theoretical underpinning of vulnerability assessment is based on varied conceptual frameworks (Bohle 2001, Cannon et al. 2003, Chambers and Conway 1992, DFID 1999, Davidson 1997, Bollin et al. 2003, UN/ISDR 2004, Turner et al. 2003, Bogardi and Birkmann 2004, Wisner et al. 2004, Carreno et al. 2005). Adger (2006) explains assessment of vulnerability as "measurement of vulnerability must therefore reflect social processes as well as material outcomes within systems that appear complicated and with many linkages that are difficult to pin downâ€¦ the translation of this complex set of parameters into a quantitative metric in many ways reduces its impact and hides its complexity."
The conceptual frameworks help in developing methods for the measurement and identification of appropriate variables/indicators. In literature, various analytical frameworks and models are developed in an attempt to systemize and assess vulnerability. Bohle (2001) presented a 'double structure of vulnerability' that has both internal and external factors. The internal (factors related to individuals themselves) include the coping capacity, capacity to anticipate threat, resist and recover from the impact of hazard while the external aspect is the exposure to hazards and shocks. The conceptual framework of Bohle linked the external shocks such as climate change to the internal coping capacity of individual or groups that placed 'exposure' at the centre of the vulnerability discourse. The term 'exposure' resonates empathetically in the social vulnerability debate as governance mechanisms, institutional response, social networks and all the processes that increase susceptibility.
Vulnerability can also be analysed from the Sustainable Livelihood Framework (SLF) that was originally developed for rural sustainable livelihood opportunities by Chambers and Conway in 1992. SLF is based on five tangible assets such as human, nature, finance, social and physical capitals. The term sustainability encompasses internal strength, coping capacity from shocks, ability to recover from stresses and ability to reproduce without compromising future production potential (DFID, 1999; Chambers and Conway, 1992). The core of the sustainable livelihood approach is the ability to cope and recover from disasters through all forms of capital (human, financial, etc.), assets and transforming structures. Five livelihood assets can serve as an important source and checklist for other approaches that also aim to identify susceptibility and coping capacity of people from natural hazards (Brikmann, 2006).
In the above two approaches, the interconnectivity of hazard indicators has made vulnerability a part of a larger framework. Indicators such as susceptibility, risk, coping capacity, exposure and capacity to recover are directly or indirectly linked to the diverse forms of vulnerability. However, the school of disaster risk defines vulnerability within the context of hazards (Brikmann, 2006). This school of thought defined vulnerability from three different approaches. Davidson (1997) defined risk within the framework of disaster risk reduction. Bollin et al. (2003) has further developed this approach by putting vulnerability within the framework of disaster risk. The conceptual framework defined by Bollin et al. (2003) is based on four distinct categories of disaster risks including hazards, exposure, capacity measures and vulnerability (Brikmann, 2006).
Crichton (1999) developed a 'risk triangle' and argued that "risk is the probability of a loss, and this depends on three elements, hazard, vulnerability and exposure." Crichton finds a causal relationship between the three elements and the risk and argues that any increase/decrease in hazard, vulnerability and exposure has a direct impact on the level of risk. Villagran de Leon (2004) has defined vulnerability through 'triangle of risk' developed on the basis of Crichton's risk triangle. His triangle of risk is based on vulnerability, hazard and deficiencies in preparedness. In the framework of Villagran de Leon, vulnerability is seen as a pre-existing condition that further deteriorates social and economic production and reproduction processes when individuals and groups experience an external hazard. Instead of indicating a positive outcome of coping capacity, Villagran de Leon pointed out a negative aspect (deficiencies in preparedness) that most of the societies and individuals demonstrate.
The ongoing global environmental change and sustainability discussion has recognized the importance of changes in the structure and functions of the biosphere due to natural hazards (Turner et al., 2003). It requires a vulnerability assessment framework that not only deals with fundamentals of human society but also attempts to conserve the life support system of the planet. This dual objective emphasizes the need to understand the human-environment link and sustainability. The vulnerability framework developed by Turner et al. (2003) attempts to answer some of the basic questions such as who is vulnerable, and where, due to increasing environmental changes? Turner et al. (2003) outlined three basic elements of a vulnerability framework that includes exposure, sensitivity and resilience. One important aspect of this vulnerability framework is that it takes into account the interaction of multiple interacting elements such as perturbation, stressors and stresses. The concept of adaptation is a distinguishing feature of this framework that is viewed as an increase in resilience.
The UN/ISDR disaster risk reduction framework viewed vulnerability as a key factor that determines risk (Brikmann, 2006). In this framework, vulnerability can be social, economic, physical and environmental that is directly linked with the disaster risk. Although the disaster risk reduction framework viewed vulnerability as a key factor that defines risk, there is no causal relationship between these two elements. Vulnerability is viewed outside the framework of risk response and preparedness that also conceptually disconnects the need for risk reduction and vulnerability reduction through hazard mitigation.
The UN/ISDR framework emphasises the sustainable development concept for effective risk reduction strategies and goals. It reiterates that "promote sustainable development by making the best use of connections among social, economic, physical and environmental goals to reduce risk" (UN/ISDR, 2004). It is however, difficult to understand how sustainable development concept can be linked with disaster risk reduction when it is questionable that whether social and economic are closely linked with environmental sphere
Most recently, the United Nations University - Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) has developed two conceptual frameworks for vulnerability assessment that are called the 'onion framework' and the 'BBC conceptual framework'. The analytical basis of the 'onion framework' are the economic, social and environmental spheres of the human system and emphasize that social vulnerability should incorporate the monetary dimension of losses in the event of disasters such as floods (Birkmann, 2006). The distinction between tangible and intangible losses helps in formulating coping strategies. Tangible losses (economic) could be short term in case of availability of funds and intangible losses such as fear, loss of confidence and trust require longer period of time for recovery and rehabilitation.
The 'BBC conceptual framework' is based on Bogardi and Birkmann (2004) and Cardona (1999) framework that inquired how vulnerability can be linked to human security and sustainable development. The BBC framework viewed vulnerability as a dynamic process that simultaneously focuses on vulnerabilities, coping capacities and potential intervention tools to reduce vulnerabilities (Birkmann, 2006). In essence, the BBC framework integrates economic, social and environmental dimensions from a vulnerability perspective that demands sustainability in all three spheres. Key consideration is given to the environmental sphere from the lens of sustainable development.
It is important to understand different socio-economic characteristics of the target populace. In order to develop an inclusive vulnerability index, a number of measures need to be gauged at an individual and household level such as income, wealth, education, size of special needs of population and demography. In addition, variables that are associated with the built environment, local economic activity and municipal services, and availability of emergency services and lifelines will also be useful.
Gender and Climate Change
The term 'gender' is a socially constructed phenomenon that defines different roles, identities and attitudes of men and women. Over time, these roles, identities and attitudes shape distinct characteristics of men and women in a society. Many believed that climate change is an unchanging fact for all but has varied impacts particularly for those who are poor and marginalized (Lambrou and Piana, 2006). Understandably, these poor and marginalized people have no adaptive capacity and resilience to avert the adverse impact of climate change. The conceptualization of climate change impact on gender cannot ignore the existing poverty and inequalities in communities. The analysis of poverty should be broadened to include issues of access, ownership and socio-cultural barriers. For instance, studies have shown that men did not avail health services out of fear of their community, if seen considered as weak or needing support (Esplen, 2006). Similarly, men are less likely to seek help for stress and mental health issues than women (Masika, 2002). These attitudes and behaviors demand more specific contextual based climate change adaptation strategies for men and women. One of the major short-comings of the existing literature on gender and environment is that it has heavy reliance on the generalizations that cannot hold for all people in all places (IDS Bulletin, 2008).
It is a known fact that women in developing countries as well as in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have the lowest social status in terms of economic and social empowerment. A vast majority of women are illiterate, poor, marginalized, deprived and have poor health (Mitchell et al., 2007). In rural communities, the role of women is critical in organizing life at household level. Women not only work as the unpaid family worker in agriculture and other occupations but also hold care-giving responsibilities for children, elderly people and physically or mentally impaired household members (Enarson, 2000). In addition to this, women are expected to prepare food, fetch water for drinking and make arrangements for garbage disposal. These varied responsibilities of women make them vulnerable to the differential impacts of climate change.
It is argued that though climate change affects everyone, it is not gender neutral. The majority of world poor are women and impact of climate change is more severe for women than men (WEDO, 2007). The increase in frequency and incidence of natural disasters, precipitation, cyclones, floods, droughts and heat weaves are apparent manifestation of climate change. Poor women are likely to be direct victims (mortalities and injuries) of climate change disasters such as hurricanes and floods (Neumayer and Plumper, 2007). Illiteracy among women has played a major role in understanding the disaster related campaigns and early warning systems. In the event of natural disasters, often more women die than man because they are not warned, cannot swim and cannot leave the house alone (UNFCCC COP, 2005).
Lack of land entitlements and access to social safety nets has also increased the vulnerability of women to climate related disasters. Women perform multiple roles from food producers and providers to the care givers and as custodians of family health to income generators that make them more vulnerable to climate change impacts. In the event of natural disasters, women have to work more than usual to secure food for the family, search for appropriate shelter and secure household assets. Usually, the girl-child is the first dropout from school to help her mother for food and carry water from long distances. Depletion of natural resources and decreasing agricultural productivity may place additional burden on women's health and reduce time for decision-making processes and income generating activities, worsening gender equality and women empowerment (UNDP, 2007).
It has been established from the literature that women share disproportionate share of climate change hazards with varied degree of coping and adaptation measures. Undoubtedly, the disadvantaged position of women is one of the major causes of more suffering and stress. Paradoxically, the literature on adaptation strategies has shown that women are the 'agents of change' in disasters, and play a positive role in mobilising the community to respond to disaster and in disaster preparedness and mitigation (WEDO, 2008). Often women are perceived as more vulnerable to climate change impacts and main victim of adversities but in crisis situations their contribution remains more than men in coping and livelihood adaptation strategies. A number of studies have shown that women are now starting to adapt to a changing climate and can articulate what they need to secure and sustain their livelihoods more effectively (WEDO, 2008). Climate change adaptation provides a unique opportunity to women to recognise their latent potential of decision-making and instruments of empowerment. Enarson (2000) and O'Brien (2007) highlighted this fact as "natural disasters could also provide women with a unique opportunity to challenge and change their gendered status in society". A number of studies have revealed that women often have a clear sense of what they need to adapt better. "Women have voiced their priorities in times of disaster for safety of family, adaptation in agriculture practices including crop diversification, early warning system, seeking health services and education and training for capacity enhancement, adaptation strategies and livelihood alternative" (Mitchell et al., 2007, Oxfam, 2005).
Definition of Social Capital
The term was introduced by Lyda J. Hanifan in rural school community centre in 1916. Later, Jane Jacobs defined it in the context of urban life and neighbourliness in 1961. However, the first theoretical framework explaining the term was developed by James S. Coleman in 1988. Coleman defined the term as an institution which comes into being due to the existence of a social structure; it consists of social relationships between persons who are connected to each other through the social structure.
It is difficult to define social capital in interdisciplinary context. For instance, it may find some space in social sciences as it has emerged from the discipline of sociology but it is hard to describe social capital in the context of physical science. Recognizing the importance of interdisciplinary approach in recent literature, the authors of different disciplines have attempted to describe the term in the context of their specialised disciplines. Bourdieu (1993) believed that "economic capital underpin social capital and interacts with wider structures to reproduce social inequalities. Social capital enables individuals and groups to access valued resources". In capitalist societies, the Marxist framework of 'commune' creeps in the form of recognising the importance of social capital.
What is meant by social capital is a fundamental question. Many theorists agree to describe social capital as 'pooling of resources' of individuals and groups for better quality of life and overall well-being. These 'resources' are in the form of information, ideas, financial capital, emotional support, trust, confidence and cooperation. People may access these resources in their relationships within families, communities and social networks when well-connected networks have been established, otherwise these resources will remain hidden. In theorizing social capital Putnam (2000) explains that "the social networks and the norms of trustworthiness and reciprocity that arise from them is social capital that is a powerful predictor of many social goods, including people's health and happiness, levels of economic development, well-working schools, safe neighborhoods, and responsive governments."
Bourdieu (1983) defined social capital as "an attribute of an individual in a social context. One can acquire social capital through purposeful actions and can transform social capital into conventional economic gains. The ability to do so, however, depends on the nature of the social obligations, connections, and networks available to you."
Coleman (1994) explains "social capital is defined by its function. It is not a single entity, but a variety of different entities, having two characteristics in common: they all consist of some aspect of a social structure, and they facilitate certain actions of individuals who are within the structure."
Dudwick et al. (2006) conceptualize it as "social capital of a community includes different but overlapping dimensions such as groups and networks, trust and solidarity, ability of collective action and cooperation, state of information and communication with the community, extent of social cohesion and inclusion and the degree of empowerment and political action. Understanding the characteristics related to these dimensions can help us create better policies related to the development issues faced by the communities.
Adger (2000) viewed it as "social capital refers to the role and value of social networks upon the productivity and capability of individuals and the resources which can be mobilized such as networks."
Dynes (2006) elaborates social capital in the context of climate change as "it is proposed that the cohesiveness of the community organizations, responses and mechanisms in place to manage a hazard event, collectively contribute to the degree of social vulnerability transferred to the individual or group as a whole."
Social capital definition of World Bank (1999) is "social capital refers to the institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a society's social interactions. Increasing evidence shows that social cohesion is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable. Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions which underpin a society - it is the glue that holds them together."
Social associations are an essential resource through which poor people create endurance and mobility strategies. Assessment of social capital includes taking the community as the unit of analysis and focusing on the nature and extent of cross cutting ties, together with people's involvement in informal networks and formal civic organizations.
What is resilience? Resilience is the ability to "bounce" back to pre-disaster conditions. It is an important dimension of vulnerability. A workable definition of resilience by Floodsite (2005) describes it as "the ability of a system, community, society, defense to react to and recover from the damaging effect of realised hazards." The size and duration of indirect impacts strongly depends, for example, on resilience. In contrast to exposure and vulnerability, resilience has a longer time frame and relates more to the secondary impacts of disasters. Appropriate organisational structures for prevention, mitigation and response have a decisive influence on resilience; hence it is important to estimate the post disaster role of organisational structures. Weichselgartner (2001) provides a working definition which encompasses the aforementioned factors; "The condition of a given area with respect to hazard, exposure, and preparedness, prevention, and response characteristics to cope with specific natural hazards. It is a measure of the capability of this set of elements to withstand events of a certain physical character.
Social resilience is the capacity of a community or society potentially exposed to hazards to adapt, by resisting or changing in order to reach and maintain an acceptable level of functioning and structure. This is determined by the degree to which the social system is capable of organising itself to increase its capacity for learning from past disasters for better future protection and to improve risk reduction measures (Tapsell et al., 2010).