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Pakistanis show resilience against disasters

Publication Date : 28-12-2012


Human resilience for the 13 highest risk countries has been declining but in Pakistan it has been increasing, shows a recent study by researchers associated with the US Department of Energy.

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, which conducts research for the Department of Energy, are developing a human resilience index to provide tools that help explore the links among human ecological conditions, human resilience and conflict.

Seven indicators are used to calculate the index: population growth rate, population density, caloric intake per capita, renewable freshwater per capita, arable land per capita, median age, and population health.

The last indicator includes infant and child mortality and life expectancy.

The researchers focused on a particular period — 1961-2008 — and also considered various historic events associated with some form of state failure. These included Somalia’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1977, the 1988 food shortages and rioting in Malawi, and the 1994 civil war in Yemen.

Other data showed that declines in human resilience index values for Somalia, Malawi and Yemen were influenced heavily by steep population growth rates (10, 6 and 5 per cent respectively), which were driven by international refugee migration.

In Malawi, declining caloric intake (food shortages) and declining public health (life expectancy) played important roles. In Yemen, a youth bulge (declining median age) and food shortages played important roles.

Pakistan, however, increased its resilience in this period. The researchers attributed this increase to increasing life expectancy in Pakistan.

Although ranking better than the other countries on the risk list, Pakistan was still in the lower third of all 154 countries.

“Pakistan’s ranking suggests that instabilities there may be less related to human ecological conditions than in the other countries,” the researchers concluded.

The next objective in this work is to calibrate the Human Resilience Model to historic data, and then use the calibrated model to dynamically generate the HRI value for countries or regions into the future. The index value for each year will be based on the dynamic relationships among indicator values and other data from each previous year.

Using hypothetical data to simulate model results for three hypothetical futures in Pakistan, the researchers concluded that Pakistan’s HRI value will be gradually improving.

The index will allow policymakers to more easily identify trends and dynamics leading to potential state failure, and to simulate the trade-offs associated with different policies and strategies aimed at mitigating those failures.

The Human Resilience Index ranks countries by their resilience to collapse based upon the condition of their human ecology.

The index results for 154 countries were derived from data collected from the World Bank Development Indicators and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.


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