Vulnerability to extreme events is usually addressed for macro units (districts or provinces) whereas the relative vulnerability of micro units may be more useful to a policy maker. The present study addresses the vulnerability of coastal villages to cyclones and storm surge risks and identifies the physical and socio-economic factors strongly impacting the vulnerability of the villages. Rather than using a composite or aggregative index, we define the vulnerability index as the probability of facing non-zero deaths due to severe cyclones and calculate the indexes from a cyclone impact (human casualty) function using both Logit and Poisson specifications. We use human casualty data of the Super cyclone of Oct 1999 in India and other geo-physical and socioeconomic data for the same year and study the 262 villages lying within 10 km of the coast in Kendrapada district, a highly vulnerable district in India. We find 112 to 132 villages qualifying as least vulnerable with a death probability of less than 0.1; 72-82 villages as moderately vulnerable with a death probability ranging between 0.1 and 0.3; 34-37 villages rated as more vulnerable with a death probability in between 0.3 to 0.5; and 21 to 34 villages displaying high vulnerability with a death probability greater than 0.5. In general, villages established in the mangrove habitat areas after cutting down the forest and the ones with a higher percentage of marginal workers were found to be more vulnerable while those with mangrove vegetation behind them and situated near a big river were seen as being less vulnerable. The results have important implications in identification of the vulnerable or the most vulnerable hotspots in an otherwise vulnerable area.
Addressing Coastal Vulnerability at the Village Level: The Role of Socio-economic and Physical Factors
Working Paper Series No. E/295/2009