The impact of a particular hazard depends on how vulnerable
people and communities are.
Poverty, inequality and group grievance, lack of security and public goods, poor governance, human rights abuses, urbanization, environmental degradation, climate change and global epidemics such as HIV/AIDS all contribute to increased vulnerability.
People most affected by crises find it progressively harder to recover due to the loss of their assets and livelihoods, impaired physical and psychological health, and the destruction of the social, economic and political fabric of society. In addition, social and cultural discriminatory norms can lead to the exclusion of certain groups and individuals from humanitarian assistance and their increased exposure to abuse and violence. Further more, people and communities find their traditional coping mechanisms inadequate and unsuitable to deal with new hazards from climate change. Suffering from one crisis will make them more vulnerable to the next and they are trapped in a downward spiral from which it is difficult to escape.
A vulnerability focus for Denmark’s humanitarian action aims to break this cycle. This means where possible addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability before and during times of crises and channelling support to the most vulnerable during crises in ways that build on existing local capacities and that strengthen their resilience to future crisis and shocks. This requires a holistic approach, including long-term development efforts, diplomacy, security and justice in addition to humanitarian action.