Measuring disaster resilience (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report)

This report looks at approaches and methodologies applied by donors, NGOs and the UN in measuring resilience within programmes



Measuring disaster resilience: What are the different approaches and methodologies being applied by donors, NGOs, the UN and others in measuring resilience within programming? In defining resilience the review should refer to DFID’s strategy - Defining Disaster Resilience.

Key Findings

Several agencies have developed guidance for measuring disaster resilience. One of the most comprehensive and widely-cited frameworks is Twigg’s (2009) characteristics of resilience framework. Based on five dimensions of resilience identified in the Hyogo Framework for Action (governance, risk assessment, knowledge and education, risk management and vulnerability reduction, disaster preparedness and response), it provides an extensive inventory of 28 components and 167 characteristics or indicators. DFID’s Multi-Hazard Risk Assessment Framework and Oxfam GB’s Multidimensional Approach for Measuring Resilience are two other frameworks with detailed recommendations for indicators.

On the other hand, many agencies do not recommend standard sets of indicators, but instead emphasise the need to develop locally-relevant indicators through participatory methods involving local communities. These agencies provide strategies and tools for developing context-specific indicators and approaches to measuring resilience.

There is a tension between the need for indicators to be both comparable and tailored to particular social groups and contexts. Moreover, it has been warned that quantification can de-contextualise resilience, particularly where it fails to account for factors operating at multiple levels (household, national, international).


Oddsdóttir, F.; Lucas, B.; Combaz, E. Measuring disaster resilience (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 12 pp.

Measuring disaster resilience (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report)

Published 20 December 2013