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Pinning down social vulnerability in Sindh Province, Pakistan: from narratives to numbers, and back again

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Daanish Mustafa, Giovanna Gioli, Manzoor Memon, Meher Noshirwani, Iffat Idris, Nadeem Ahmed

Original languageEnglish
Early online date19 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Nov 2018

King's Authors


This paper reflects critically on the results of a vulnerability assessment process at the household and community scale using a quantitative vulnerabilities and capacities index. It validates a methodology for a social vulnerability assessment at the local scale in 62 villages across four agro-ecological/livelihood zones in Sindh Province, Pakistan. The study finds that the move from vulnerability narratives to numbers improves the comparability and communicational strength of the concept. The depth and nuance of vulnerability, however, can be realised only by a return to narrative. Caution is needed, therefore: the index can be used in conjunction with qualitative assessments, but not instead of them. More substantively, the results show that vulnerability is more a function of historico-political economic factors and cultural ethos than any biophysical changes wrought by climate. The emerging gendered vulnerability picture revealed extremes of poverty and a lack of capacity to cope with contemporary environmental and social stresses.

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