Measuring vulnerability to natural hazards: a macro framework


Jacquleen Joseph, PhD, Associate Professor, Jamsetji Tata Center for Disaster Management, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Malati and Jal A.D Naoroji Campus (Annex), Post Box No. 8313, Deonar, Mumbai-88, India. Telephone: +91 22 25525886 (office); e-mail:


The measurement of vulnerability—defined here as the asymmetric response of disaster occurrences to hazardous events—signifies a key step towards effective disaster risk reduction and the promotion of a culture of disaster resilience. One of the reasons for not being able to do the same in a wider context is related to conceptual, definitional, and operational issues. This paper presents an operationally feasible framework for conducting this task and measures revealed macro vulnerability as a function of disaster risk and hazard probability. The probabilities of hazard and its perceived disaster risk were obtained from past data and from probability distributions. In this paper, the corresponding analytical framework is constructed using the case study of floods in Assam, India. The proposed indicator will help policymakers to draw on available macro-level data to identify the regions that are vulnerable to disasters, where micro-level disaster vulnerability assessments could be performed in greater detail.