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Quantitative Vulnerability Assessment for Economic Systems

Vulnerability and the Process of Recovery for Households and Companies in Phang-Nga and Phuket Provinces in Thailand

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Philipp Willroth

In 2004 tsunami waves caused huge economic losses along the coastline of Southern Thailand. These resulted from direct damages and the following economic downturn. This study investigates the factors that led to this vulnerable situation. One of the greatest challenges in vulnerability research is the quantification. To answer this question, a wide database has been used, encompassing highly accurate remote sensing data, quantitative surveys and qualitative focus group discussion data. These data have been integrated in a structural equation model to reproduce factors and relations leading to the hazard induced effects and the capabilities to cope with. The model showed that the impact was almost completely compensated for by households’ and companies’ internal and external resilience capabilities.

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3 Vulnerability framework used in this study

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As seen before the major approaches of vulnerability research can be divided into two strands (cp. Figure 6). On the one hand, the concept of ‘vulnerability to poverty’ uses an income threshold to define a vulnerable state. If the household is likely to fall under this income threshold, the household can be called vulner- able. On the other hand, there are the frameworks resulting from the socio- economic research fields which are more focused on describing the interactions of exposure, sensitivity and resilience in a more qualitative and holistic way. The aim of this study is to create a quantitative measurement tool for vul- nerability which is suited to the special situation of the 2004 tsunami and inte- grates the elements of vulnerability discussed above. The concept of vulnerabil- ity to poverty is not applicable for the special situation in southern Thailand af- ter the tsunami due to the enormous efforts undertaken by governmental and non-governmental agencies to support local households and businesses in their recovery efforts. As a consequence, the poverty rate in this relatively high in- come area of Thailand is still significantly lower than the average of the whole kingdom. The main characteristics of the 2004 tsunami in southern Thailand re- sult from its special nature as a rapidly occurring and covariant risk affecting all households to the same degree, with differences depending only on their loca- tion relative to the coastline and their exposed assets. Due to the fact that tsuna- mis were not known in...

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