Understanding Vulnerability:
Concepts, Methods, and Applications for Development Planning

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Programme Date: 10 – 12 December 2015 | IIHS Bangalore City Campus

Course Description

India’s development trajectory is characterised by multiple dynamics: changing livelihoods, rapid urbanization, deteriorating natural resources, and increasing income inequality. Climate change is poised to exacerbate the impacts of these dynamics on people’s lives and livelihoods. Natural and human settlements are vulnerable to these impacts in multiple ways. For development planners and practitioners to plan and prioritise funds for poverty alleviation and responding to climate change, vulnerability assessments are emerging as a useful tool.

This 3-day workshop on Understanding Vulnerability will critically examine the different conceptualisations of vulnerability; cover the breadth of methodologies used to assess vulnerability; and use different cases to demonstrate the application of vulnerability assessments in development planning and prioritisation. The course will specially focus on vulnerability to climate change and how it can help in better decision-making at multiple scales. Using a mix of lectures, multimedia tools, case studies from rural and urban landscapes, and participatory exercises, the workshop will expand the learner’s theoretical and methodological understanding of vulnerability.

The course is conducted as part of CARIAA-ASSAR research dissemination. To know more about the project please click the link

Who Should Attend
  1. Government officials working in sectors of climate change, poverty alleviation, housing, water and sanitation, agriculture DRR.
  2. Practitioners from development consultancies and NGOs
  3. Students (PhD, Masters) and early career researchers working in the areas of vulnerability and development studies
Key Learners Achievements

At the end of the course, participants will have gained the following:

  1. Holistic understanding of concepts of vulnerability especially in the context of climate change
  2. Understanding of interactions between biophysical, climatic and non-climatic risks that impact vulnerability
  3. Knowledge of various methods of vulnerability assessment with a critical understanding of its application and limitations in appropriate contexts
  4. Ability to conduct vulnerability assessments in urban and rural contexts
  5. Ability to interpret results of vulnerability assessments to aid decision making
Key Learners Achievements
Sessions Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Session 1


What do you understand by vulnerability? – Interactive session

Why vulnerability?

Case 2 –Vulnerability assessment of water sector : Chennai

●       Explanation of case

●       How was vulnerability assessed?

●       Policy implications

●       Discussion

Group work: Conduct vulnerability assessment based on previous reading, field visit and course learnings.
Session 2

11:30 – 13:00

Group discussion (to discuss the clip)

Introduction to concepts of vulnerability:

·        Economics

·        Hazards and Risk

·        Social

·        Ecology/resilience

Case 3 –

Co-DriVE, a community-driven vulnerability assessment developed by the Water Organisation Trust

Group work
Session 3

14:00 – 15:00

Vulnerability Assessment methods

·        Indicator-based (identifies who/what is vulnerable)

·        Qualitative (intra-household, temporal)

·        Spatial (mapping of vulnerable areas)

Introduction to group exercise:

Field visit: Bangalore

Presentation of group work


Session 4

15:30 – 17:00

Case 1 – Decision making processes in the context of extreme events: Odisha Lessons sharing and discussions

Andaleeb Rahman

Andaleeb is trained as an applied economist. His research interests are broadly the areas of development economics with a specific focus on the issues of food policy, nutrition, social support programs and agriculture. At IIHS, he is working on the themes of climate change adaptation, urban food security and the rural-urban dynamics. He joined IIHS as a postdoctoral fellow on the IDRC funded Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) project. He is looking at the impact of climate change on livelihoods – employment, migration, food security and agricultural production. Before joining IIHS, he was working as a consultant at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded project called “Tackling Nutrition-Agriculture Disconnect in India (TANDI) – II”.

Chandni Singh

Chandni is a postdoctoral researcher working on the CARIAA (Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Asia and Africa) project. She specializes in researching the interface between climate change adaptation, livelihood transformations, and rural-urban dynamics. Her doctoral research explored farmer vulnerability and adaptation strategies to water scarcity and climate change in southern Rajasthan (India). She has worked with several civil society organizations such as Pragya, WWF-India, and the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) on projects related to community-based adaptation and natural resource management. Most recently, she led the South Asian component of the Asian Review on Integrated Landscape Initiatives in collaboration with Bioversity International.

Prathigna Poonacha Kodira

Prathigna is a Senior Associate at IIHS working on the CARIAA (Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Asia and Africa) project. Prior to IIHS, Prathigna has worked as a consultant with the Habitat Forum (INHAF) to put together a research proposal to re-envision urban investments in India by evaluating the impacts and outcomes of JnNURM through a citizen sector perspective. She was a research associate at the Centre for Conservation Studies, CEPT, Ahmedabad where as a part of the technical team, she helped prepare the dossier for the nomination of the old city of Ahmedabad to UNESCO’s World Heritage Cities. She has also worked as a design consultant in her early career, especially in the retail sector in Indian cities. She is interested in research related to climate change and adaptation, urban systems, multi-stakeholder involvement in decision making processes and participatory governance.

Sumetee Pahwa Gajjar

Sumetee is a consultant with IIHS and has worked as a design consultant in her early career in India. She worked as a policy and strategic development planning consultant and trainer for the South African public sector. She has taught strategic and development planning to municipal officials and worked on policy analysis of environmental, development and climate change regulations and legislation, systems analysis of business processes towards reduced emissions and waste streams, and city development strategies for sustainability. Her doctoral thesis examines business decisions aimed at corporate environmental sustainability, including reduced carbon emissions, from the perspective of building resilience in social-ecological systems. Sumatee is interested in researching the confluence of climate science and climate change policy response, climate change adaptation and mitigation interventions, energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for sustainable development, extension of resilience thinking into trans-disciplinary practice for sustainable outcomes.

Garima Jain

Garima’s areas of research include issues of vulnerabilities and risks particularly in urban areas, migration, climate change and multi-dimensional urban poverty. She supports the practice team on urban policy projects. She is currently leading a project for CDKN focusing on climate related resettlement and relocation risks in urban areas. She has been instrumental in building and delivering capacity building programmes for working professionals on various themes including – Integrated Urban Disaster Risk Reduction, Urban India & Environmental Sustainability, Data Visualization and Re-imagining the world-class city. Garima has a Master of Public Policy and Urban Planning from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Massachusetts, USA and a B.Arch. from Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Delhi, India.  She has been instrumental in building and delivering capacity building programmes for working professionals on various themes including – Integrated Urban Disaster Risk Reduction, Urban India & Environmental Sustainability, Data Visualization and Re-imagining the world-class city.

Hemant Pinjan | Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR)

Hemant Pinjan holds a Masters degree in Social Work from Pune University along with a Diploma in Business Management also from Pune University.

Since 1996 he has been working in the development sector specifically in applied and action research across India, and more specifically in Maharashtra and Rajasthan. His area of expertise covers a wide range of work right from implementing watershed development projects to various kinds of NRM based projects, watershed development, renewable energy project such as  installation of solar operated drinking water schemes etc.. He is also senior cadre trainer at WOTR providing trainings to government, non-government officials, field staff and community members on watershed development and, climate change adaptation and associate aspects.

His core strength lies in project implementation, mainstreaming, scaling up strategies for betterment of rural livelihoods and community level facilitation on application of climate change tools embedded in heavy concepts.

Hemant, is currently working as the Deputy Manager at WOTR’s Knowledge Management unit in Pune Maharashtra supporting Monitoring & Evaluation of projects as well as  Research & Documentation for the MELD – IWMP projects in Maharashtra.

Veena Srinivasan | Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE)

Veena Srinivasan is a Fellow at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore. Veena’s research interests include inter-sectoral water allocation, impacts of multiple stressors on water resources, bi-directional socio-hydrologic feedbacks, and sustainable water management policy and practice. Prior to joining ATREE, she worked for several years on energy and water issues in India, California and globally .Veena received her PhD from Stanford University’s Emmet Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER). Her dissertation compared centralized and decentralized approaches to urban water supply using a hydro-economic modelling approach. As a post-doctoral scholar at Stanford, Veena was instrumental in developing a framework for a Global Freshwater Initiative at Stanford to understand patterns in the nature and causes of global water crises.

Veena’s recent work at ATREE in the Adapting to Climate Change in Urbanizing Watersheds (ACCUWa) project has focused on anthropogenic and climatic influences on the hydrologic cycle using novel sensing and citizen science and modelling as well as human impacts and responses. After her PhD, Veena stayed on as a post-doctoral fellow to help found a Freshwater Initiative at Stanford. Her dissertation and post-doctoral work resulted in a number of journal articles in Water Resources Research, Water International and Global Environmental Change.

Course Participation

There are limited seats in this programme, and admission is based on review of the applications. Selected participants will be extended a complete fee waiver*, including travel and accommodation costs. We recommend that you apply at the earliest to avail this scholarship.

*For details about the scholarship, contact Prashanth on +91 – 9611911169 or prashanthc@iihs.ac.in