Released in October 2017, this online tool is a step-by-step guide to Oxfam's Vulnerability and Risk Analysis (VRA), which is a multi-stakeholder process designed to promote dialogue, trust, and shared action amongst different groups by positioning the community as the experts in understanding problems and identifying solutions. The VRA brings together women and men from different livelihoods, religions, and socio-economic groups, including the private sector, with decision-makers from local and/or national governments. Together, these stakeholders build an understanding of how different groups of people are vulnerable to different types of risks and agree actions that can be taken to enhance social and economic well being, and promote resilient development. The VRA also highlights the wider issues that influence people's vulnerability, such as gender and inequality, power and governance, global trade and investment, and access to natural resources.

Designed to support workshop facilitators, non-governmental organisation (NGO) practitioners, and researchers, this VRA toolkit is intended to be easy to use and can inform project design, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) processes, and wider strategic thinking. It includes several components:

  • Preparing for the VRA
  • Step 1: Initial vulnerability assessment
  • Step 2: Impact chain exercise
  • Step 3: Adaptive capacity analysis
  • Step 4: Aliging findings with opportunities
  • Reflections and learning

Oxfam has found that using a tool that prioritises the viewpoints of communities can help lead to more democratic and inclusive knowledge exchange and can help facilitate the active participation of marginalised groups. In practice, the organisation has used the VRA to, for example, identify the divergent experiences of South Sudanese people during the lean season, where gendered food consumption patterns and the care burden of women meant their food security concerns were different from those of men. In conducting a VRA in Tala, Bangladesh, Oxfam discovered that the assumptions made by NGO practitioners did not match the priorities of the community. In Malawi, as part of a VRA with stakeholders in the tea sector, Oxfam brought together employers, employees, and government policymakers to discuss how industry issues affect everyone in different ways, to share concerns, and to unpack misunderstandings within the community. According to Oxfam, focusing on people, rather than technocratic solutions, means the data collection process in itself becomes an important output.


Email from Oxfam Policy & Practice to The Communication Initiative on October 31 2017; and VRA toolkit website and"A practical tool for listening to the people that matter", by Jessica Fullwood-Thomas, October 16 2017 - both accessed on November 1 2017. Image credit: A VRA analysis being conducted in Bangladesh. Credit: Oxfam

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