Population vulnerability and disaster risk reduction: a situation analysis among the landslide affected communities in Kerala, India

16 August 2013

Landslides affect at least 15% of the land area of India, exceeding 0.49 million km2. Taking the case of landslide affected communities in the state of Kerala in India, this paper demonstrates that the focus has seldom been placed on assessing and reducing vulnerability. From the perspective of political economy, this paper argues that vulnerability reduction has to be the main priority of any disaster risk reduction programme. This paper also demonstrates that the interactions between ecological and social systems are usually complex and non-linear in nature. In contrast, interventions to tackle landslide risks have followed a linear course, assuming that one hazard event acts independently of another. The key findings of the study show that lack of access to political power, decision making, and resources, insecure livelihoods,environmental degradation, and ine#ectiveness of the state approach to disaster risk reduction are some of the major factors that lead to increasing vulnerability. Qualitative in nature, the primary data were collected through in-depth interviews with people from different groups such as farmers affected by the landslides and secondary floods, men and women living in the temporary shelter, government representatives involved in relief activities, health authorities, and elected representatives.