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Disasters-related State-level Vulnerability Indices: the Case of Mexico
Published: 30 October 2012 by MDPI in The 2nd World Sustainability Forum session Sustainable Development Policy and Practice
Abstract: Mexico is constantly suffering the effects of natural events that turn into disasters, affecting people\'s livelihood and wellbeing. Just in 2011 and 2012 we have had floods in the South, drought in the North and Central parts of the country and earthquakes in the Pacific coast that have claimed lives, caused displacement of people and generated significant losses to the local economies. We look at four different types of disasters, i.e. floods, drought, frost and earthquakes. The frequency and intensity of the first three may be related to climate variability (and therefore associated to climate change). Using data on damages, frequency of natural events, geographical characteristics and meteorological data, as well as land use change and soil degradation, socioeconomic data, institutional capacity, and expected sensitivity to climate change, we estimate a State-level vulnerability index that allows us to (a) rank states depending on their vulnerability to a specific nature-related disaster, and (b) identify the main causes of relative vulnerability of a particular State to a specific disaster. This is certainly useful for policy making and can be reproduced at different scales of the subnational level, be it municipalities or communities or for more aggregated areas such as regions within a country. Our sensitivity analysis supports the robustness of the index we construct. Results show interesting patterns across disasters and help identify the type of policies that each State needs to reduce its vulnerability to different disasters. This type of analysis may lead to adaptation policies that help curb vulnerability of the most vulnerable communities.
Keywords: disasters, vulnerability indices, Mexico