A ‘social assessment’ has broadly two functions: to assess the social impact of the disaster itself; and to analyse and manage the social consequences of reconstruction interventions. There seems to be relatively little material on the latter in post-disaster contexts. This query therefore focuses on the two related components of such an assessment.
The first is meaningful community participation in recovery planning and implementation. A great deal of the literature included here provides guidelines and methodologies for consultation with stakeholders on needs assessment, project design and participatory processes for implementation and monitoring.
The second is analysis of local vulnerabilities, and how they can be reduced in ways that lead to sustainable solutions. The International Federation of the Red Cross’ Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) framework has been widely used by practitioners for almost ten years. Its 1999 guidelines state that the VCA can be used to:
- understand the problems (symptoms) and where they come from (underlying causes);
- assess what resources, skills and capacities already available;
- encourage focus on specific local conditions (specific threats and risks, most vulnerable groups, sources of vulnerability, local perceptions of risks, and local resources and capacities);
- highlight different areas of responsibility for reducing vulnerabilities in terms of whether political, technical, financial or social inputs are required.