Subjective approaches to measuring resilience


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Kyrgyzstan ranks as the third most vulnerable country to climate change impacts within Eastern Europe and Central Asia, mainly due to the sensitivity of its agricultural systems to climatic change. The country’s rural exposure, sensitivity and relative lack of adaptive capacity to climate-related shocks and stressors make it increasingly important that building resilience to such events is at the core of development policy and programmes, to enable communities in Kyrgyzstan to continue thriving within their chosen geography and livelihood systems.

Increasing the resilience of a community means ensuring that adverse shocks and stressors do not have adverse development consequences on the people within that population. Therefore, a useful resilience measure should be able to predict which people will cope with and adapt to shocks and stressors best in the future, by predicting future well-being.

Instead of trying to measure every detail of what creates resilience in each context, it is possible to ask communities to directly rate their ability to maintain their wellbeing in the face of the shocks and stressors that they expect. These questions ask for an opinion and/or perspective from the people, and are therefore called ‘subjective’ questions, as opposed to ‘objective’ questions, which ask respondents for factual information that can be verified.

This policy brief is based on a study that is the first to test how well subjective resilience (SR) measures can predict future well-being, which is represented by household food security here. The study focuses on one village in each of Batken, Bazar-Korgon (Jalalabad province) and Naryn districts in Kyrgyzstan, each of which has been highlighted by the World Food Programme as a Category 1 district, which means they experience high recurrences of poverty and high or medium risk of natural shocks, relative to the rest of the country.

Image: Reminiscing, by Ronan Shenhav, Ysyk-Kol, Kyrgyzstan

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