Comparing Vulnerability Indices

Authors: Alyne Figueiredo Gonçalves*, Middlebury College
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Africa
Keywords: vulnerability, malawi, index, vulnerability index, indice, Africa
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Vulnerability indexes and vulnerability maps are important tools in understanding the spatial distribution of vulnerability and to aid in effectively crafting strategies to distribute resources for mitigation purposes. However, there isn’t a single agreed upon methodology to create a vulnerability index and scholars are still unsure about their reliability. Despite that, indexes are often directly used for decision-making. We sought to compare vulnerability indexes for Malawi, our case-study, to better understand at which levels these indexes differed and to test if they tended to agree in their estimate of vulnerability. A challenge that arose from this approach was coming up with a methodology and choosing a scale that most fairly and accurately allowed us to compare the indexes. We compared four different indexes measuring social vulnerability first in regards to their methodology and then their results by normalizing the vulnerability scores by quantiles and by using the Spearman’s correlation coefficient to determine statistical correlation. We concluded that the different methodologies varied significantly. When it comes to the indexes themselves, whenever there was enough data to test it, there seems to be a correlation between the different indexes in most instances.
These results reveal a certain agreement between different vulnerability indexes but also that an accurate understanding of the information provided by each index is reliant upon understanding the process by which it was made and therefore researchers should seek to, as much as possible, make that information accessible, clear and free of jargon.

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