Measuring Community Disaster Resilience Capacity for Natural Hazards: Case Study Rathnapura Sri Lanka

By Medha Rasanjalee Gunawardhana, Trevor Budge and Kaushalya Abeyrathna.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The probability of natural disasters, including heat waves, drought, wildfire, cyclones, floods and landslides, is increasing due to global climate change. Human vulnerability to any disaster is a complex phenomenon within the scope of the social, economic and cultural setting. Vulnerability to natural disasters has two aspects: the exposure to dangerous hazards and the capacity to cope with, or recover from disaster occurrence (resilience). In the context of climate change, social resilience is the ability of groups or communities to adapt to socio-economic, political, or environmental stresses and disturbances. To be resilient, societies must demonstrate the ability to buffer disturbance, self-organize, learn and adapt. But are social systems resilient in the face of climate change over time? Although individuals and communities are presently coping with climate change in the same way that they have coped with climate variability throughout history, the social capacity to respond to external changes is different within communities. Therefore, this research attempts to measure community resilience for natural disasters with three objectives: identify the indicators of community resilience, develop indices to assess the resilience capacity of communities, and apply this to a selected case study area. The case study selected is Rathnapura in Sri Lanka.

Keywords: Community Resilience,, Natural Hazards,, Community Assets,, Indicators

The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.133-146. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 663.604KB).

Medha Rasanjalee Gunawardhana

Lecturer, Department of Town and Country Planning, University of Moratuwa, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Medha Gunawardhana is a Lecturer in the Department of Town and Country Planning at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka. She is currently on study leave undertaking a PhD at La Trobe University in Australia. Her major research interests are in climate change, community development and natural resource management.

Trevor Budge

Associate Professor, Coordinator Community Planning and Development Program Program, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, , School of Humanities, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

Trevor Budge AM is an Associate Professor in Community Planning and Development at La Trobe University's Bendigo campus in Australia. He has worked extensively in Sri Lanka on planning related topics through the Planning Institute of Australia. His research interests include the planning and development of small cities and towns, the integration of statutory and strategic planning with natural resource management and the integration of food, health and urban planning studies. He conducts a very active award winning program of international study tours as part of the four degrees he coordinates.

Kaushalya Abeyrathna

Project Officer, Disaster Management Capacity Enhancement Project Sri Lanka, Japanese International Cooperation Agency, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Kaushalya Abeyrathna is currently working as a Project Officer for the Disaster Management Capacity Enhancement Project which is funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Sri Lanka. He graduated with a BSc degree in Town and Country Planning from the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka. His research interests include urban design and management, disaster management and environmental planning.


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