Vulnerability and Risk Assessment (VRA)

Photo Credit: Daniel Morchain





The VRA methodology is used to assess and categorize the livelihood activities and social groups of a community, based on their vulnerability to environmental hazards, socio-political and socio-economic issues. First, the methodology assesses the exposure and sensitivity of the identified hazards with respect to the social groups and livelihood activities (incl. crops). Then, it develops impact chains (IC) for the most relevant hazards, designs interventions to potentially reduce the negative impacts of these hazards and it supports the alignment of these interventions within the resilience-building strategy of a country programme.


The VRA Process

Before starting the VRA it may be a good idea to conduct a power dynamics exercise. Power dynamics at the local, provincial, national and international level shape the relationships of community members. A power dynamics exercise can help to understand what interventions might or might not work, or it may signal issues that need to be addressed to alter power dynamics before implementing a given intervention.

The VRA consists of four phases:

    (i) The Pre-vulnerability Assessment (Pre-VA) analyses exposure and sensitivity of

    the identified relevant hazards by combining input from community members and

    experts, estimating which are the hazards that potentially pose the highest-risk to

    communities’ livelihood activities and most vulnerable groups.

    (ii) The Impact Chains Exercise contemplates the extent of impacts in the next one,

    two, or three decades with the help of climate models, socio-economic scenarios and

    other secondary data. It identifies potential intervention actions that will later be

    scrutinized and prioritized.

    (iii) The Adaptive Capacity Analysis uses the five characteristics of local adaptive

    capacities developed under the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA)

    as a framework to analyse the extent and the potential of the adaptation measures

    identified during the impact chains exercise. The characteristics are 1) asset base, 2)

    flexible and forward looking decision making and governance, 3) innovation, 4)

    knowledge and information and 5) institutions and entitlements. A scenario planning

    exercise (as in the example from the Philippines) is a good way for community

    members and for the expert group to better visualise capacities, potential

    future impacts and adaptation paths.

    (iv) The Action Planning Stage builds a strategy for implementing the identified

    measures, ensuring that investments are being allocated to the activities that are most

    vulnerable and/or most relevant for the livelihoods of community members.

Strengths of the VRA

The VRA is an easy-to-use tool that delivers practical, evidence-based results. It bridges the gap between interventions design and higher level programming, serving as a bottom-up guide for framing resilience at community level, while ensuring that resilience-building strategies at a (higher) organisational level are properly supported on the ground. The VRA methodology tackles both disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaption (CCA) and it also considers social, political and economic issues. The methodology incorporates adaptive capacity aspects into the analysis and builds on ACCRA’s robust long-term development programming approach. The VRA approach is also applicable to contexts where a low degree of market development exists, such as emergency situations. Furthermore, it can provide a good general understanding of impacts across similar communities in the same region or in different regions with similar characteristics. Compared to the PCVA the VRA takes less times, requires fewer resources and combines input by community representatives with technical and expert input.


Country Examples


VRA Resources


Read more about comparing the VRA and PCVA


Read more about the use of the VRA in the Philippines