Assessing vulnerability of low income fishermen

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Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Background

Because there is a dynamic process involved in people activities which turn people into secure or insecure condition of life, vulnerability concept becomes an approach which is more suitable to be implemented in analysing changes in a community rather than static concept of poverty. It will be an appropriate approach in helping people to secure their life in facing changes caused by both internal and external pressures.

In general, vulnerability concept involves three basic elements of interrelating factors in a community which are pressure, sensitivity and resilience. Pressures can be interpreted by external factors which threaten a community while sensitivity and resilience are determined by internal factors which are possessed by people. Moreover, vulnerability itself can be noticed will take place as a function of time in several stages starting from individual, household and community.

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In assessing vulnerability which is very complex system, many approaches have been developed by experts in urban study. Moser (1998) suggested that vulnerability of people has a correlation with asset ownership and its management. Poor people with limited assets and weak capabilities in managing their assets tend to be more vulnerable. However, as a looking forward concept, vulnerability not only analyses poor people as the vulnerable one but also considers the probability of people to become poor as vulnerability.

Similarly, another concept which is done by Department for International Development (1999) linked up vulnerability context to asset ownership of people in sustainable livelihood strategies. Furthermore, being related to each other the assets comprise human capital, natural capital, financial capital, physical capital and social capital. In the vulnerability context, pressures which can be stress, trend or seasonality threaten people and cause a transformation either shorten or lengthen the access of people to one or more assets or capitals.

And poor people unfortunately again are considered as vulnerable because their access to capitals is influenced more easily by pressures. They do not have adequate capabilities to sustain their access to capitals. Changes in accessing one asset will inevitably cause transformation of access to other capitals.

While more general concept called DPSIR concept (Driver, Pressure, State, Impact and Response) described causal relationship between human activities and its surrounding or environment (Turner et. al., 2003). The concept identified two basic parts to the vulnerability problem and assessment: perturbation-stresses and the coupled socio-ecological system.

Using appropriate theory and being adapted to local context and issues, vulnerability assessment will be a powerful concept to investigate and measure factors which contribute to either increase or decrease vulnerability of a community. In addition, responses of people to cope certain pressures which threaten them can be an important data to determine vulnerability level of a community.

1.2 Problem statement

Since the sea is one of natural resources to be exploited for economic activities reason,

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