Disaster Risk Assessment Process


“The starting point for reducing disaster risk lies in the knowledge of the hazards and the physical, social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities ... and of the ways in which hazards and vulnerabilities are changing in the short and long term, followed by action taken on the basis of that knowledge.” – Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015


The process of determining the nature and extent of risk by analyzing potential hazards and evaluating existing conditions of vulnerability and capacity. OR

Disaster Risk assessment is a process to determine the nature and extent of such risk, by analyzing hazards and evaluating existing conditions of vulnerability that together could potentially harm exposed people, property, services, livelihoods and the environment on which they depend. In this way, informed decisions can be made regarding steps to reduce the impacts of disasters.

A comprehensive risk assessment not only evaluates the magnitude and likelihood of potential losses in case of a disaster but also provides full understanding of the causes and impact of those losses. DRA is an integral part of the decision making process. It therefore needs to engage multi-stakeholders from various disciplines and requires close cooperation and collaboration of different organizations and institutions of the target area.

Steps in Risk Assessment:

Risk Assessment (RA) consists of the following steps:

1. Hazard Assessment:

In this section the researcher identifies the types of hazards that have occurred in the area in the past or can occur in the future. This is usually the first step which then defines other steps because for each hazard, different tools and techniques are used for analysis and assessment. Earthquakes, for example, require different instruments and specializations for analysis than e.g. landslides or floods. The next steps are to find the frequency, seasonality, magnitude, intensity, extent and causes of the occurrence of hazards.

2. Vulnerability Assessment:

This step is performed to determine the elements at risk, degree of vulnerability and the causes of the elements at risk. All elements (people, building, resources etc) which are prone to the hazard are identified and an inventory is prepared. Then the degree of their vulnerability is analysed and causes of their vulnerability are determined.

Critical facility analysis is also performed by determining the critical facilities (that play major role in daily routine life e.g. schools, hospitals, mosques, civic centers etc.) at risk, causes of their vulnerabilities and analyzing historical records of hazard occurence in the identified facilities.

3. Capacity Assessment:

Capacity assessment means to identify the strengths and resources available to reduce the level of risk, or the effects of a disaster. In this step, resources of a community are evaluated by analyzing the available strengths like skills, expertise, equipment, infrastructure etc. Then the availabilty of these reources is evaluated to know how soon these resources can be deployed and become available to use. Another important step is to find out how durable and long lasting these resources are and what is the level of their operational integrity (Ability to complete tasks without supervision).

4. People's perception of Risk:

The process of finding out the perceptions of heterogeneous groups in the community regarding the disasters, hazards and risks that they are facing.