Resilience: New Utopia or New Tyranny? Reflection about the Potentials and Limits of the Concept of Resilience in Relation to Vulnerability Reduction Programmes

Authors

  • Christophe Béné,

    1. Research Fellow in the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team and member of the Centre for Social Protection at the Institute of Development Studies.
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  • Rachel Godfrey Wood,

    1. PhD candidate at the Institute for Development Studies, and is researching on the impacts of Bolivia's Renta Dignidad pension scheme on vulnerability and autonomous adaptation to climate change in highland areas.
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  • Andrew Newsham,

    1. Brings practical and theoretical insights from sociology, anthropology and geography to a research agenda which encompasses on environment and development in Southern Africa (Namibia, Zimbabwe), East Africa (Kenya) and Latin America (Argentina, Mexico), with a strong focus on climate change adaptation.
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  • Mark Davies

    1. Manages the Centre for Social Protection at the Institute of Development Studies, and has over 15 years of experience in development.
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Summary

Resilience is becoming influential in development and vulnerability reduction sectors such as social protection, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Policy makers, donors and international development agencies are now increasingly referring to the term. In that context, the objective of this paper was to assess in a critical manner the advantages and limits of resilience. While the review highlights some positive elements –in particular the ability of the term to foster integrated approach across sectors– it also shows that resilience has important limitations. In particular it is not a pro-poor concept, and the objective of poverty reduction cannot simply be substituted by resilience building.

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