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Empowering Vulnerable Populations to Build Resilience: Concept Note and Project-Based Applications

Thierry van Bastelaer

White Paper

December 1, 2014

Risk—real or perceived—affects most decisions made by individuals, households, and communities around the world. Although risk varies by nature (physical, financial, climate-related, etc.) and severity across continents, all risk carries with it the potential to push vulnerable populations below a threshold from under which recovery is impossible, or at least unlikely in the short or medium terms. Unmitigated risk and its effects are some of the main reasons that vulnerable households fall into poverty, and they underlay the inability to sustainably leave it. In addition, the deeper a household gets into poverty, the less able it is to handle the marginal risks which might enable exit. As a result, decision-making priorities focus increasingly on triage and short-term survival. The development and implementation of resilience strategies is therefore at most a prerequisite for, and at least an important element, of successful human development programs.