Resilience is a word that has become prominent in the development studies community over the last few years. Resilience started to appear after the 2008 financial crisis as people were looking for new techniques and terminology for tackling poverty.(Misha Hussain 2016).Vulnerability is also a term that has become popular over the last decade. It is important to note that both these terms are often used when referring to positive elements of poverty reduction but do however mean two entirely different things. Vulnerability is not merely about poverty, but extensive research over the last 30 years has revealed that it is generally the poor who tend to suffer from disasters(DFID 2004). Resilience, however, is deployed in diverse fields including psychology, structural engineering, and corporations. Resilience is discussed in a number of areas including the social sciences, ecological fields amongst others. Resilience has been the focus for many development projects and could be said to be replacing sustainability as the eventual goal of development practice(IDS,2012) Resilience could be said to be when actors can withstand changes and adjustments and still function normally. Theoretical discussions on the varying definitions of resilience have been generated over the years. Most of these definitions are merely used as an indication of the job to be done but are however unable to capture all possible worries about peoples vulnerability. For example, many make reference only to how much loss people (or systems) suffer, but do not address the essential question of how far they fall below any threshold of acceptable coping; a little distinction is made between how much people lose and how quickly they recover. (Simon Levine, HPD Policy Brief 2014)This concept of actors using their own definition of resilience has led to the idea that the idea of resilience may merely be another way to mask some of the underlying causes of poverty and environmental destruction.
Resilience should be thought of somewhat as a conceptual tool in which other, other disciplines can come together to tackle difficulties in a holistic manner. In some ways, it can be seen that many of the issues which cause crises are inevitable. The task, therefore, being to allow people to cope when to eventually go wrong. This helps to ensure that the most vulnerable may be protected, rather than pumping resource’s into developing countries, it allows aid to be distributed to who need it most. (Simon Levine, HPD Policy Brief 2014).An example of this can be seen in a case study of the food resilience programmes run by Practical Action as part of the Zurich Alliance. Practical Action helped to set up a farming school for at-risk communities in Nepal, living on the floodplains of the Karnali river. The villagers were always at risk from flash floods, which endangered their livestock, food, and homes. This caused many to take on expensive loans to allow them to recover. The farming schools were set up which allowed the villagers to learn new sustainable farming techniques. This allowed farmers to cultivate outside the varying seasons. Practical Action also helped to advise villagers how to protect their assets during the floods. The resilience of this community then allowed them to invest in other areas, such as healthcare and education for their children.(Adele Murphy, 2017).
The main trouble with resilience is the difficulty in defining what resilience programming actually looks like. There is also the risk that by making an entire community very resilient there still may be those who will suffer. This can be seen when a community may become very resilient to say natural disasters and climate change adaption but still very poor. This is what can lead to manipulation when used as a tool for poverty alleviation. Much of this may be when the term is misused, as there are many different conceptualizations of resilience it is hard to define what a resilient community may look like. Resilience cannot be used until it is fully understood rather, resilience must be used as a process as part of other development practices. (IDS,2012)
Resilience is essential now in any form of development planning, especially regarding poverty reduction. Resilience cannot, however, be used instead of other methods to challenge poverty and climate change. Alternatively, it must be used as a continuing process and put into the planning of other methods. It is essential to building resilient communities but also not to forget the most vulnerable, and at-risk individuals, focus must not be on not only how far people fall but also how fast they can recover. In this sense when resilience is applied it must be holistically and with a precise definition. For instance, do we necessarily need to adopt a resilience framework to analyze the potential role of social protection programmes to strengthen the adaptive capacity of the recipients? (Godfrey Wood 2011)