The risk of a humanitarian crisis is a function of hazards (events that could occur), vulnerability (the susceptibility of communities to those hazards) and capacity (resources available that can alleviate the impact). If we can measure and monitor risk at the country level, we can better prioritize resources and advocate for resilience, preparedness and humanitarian action. By identifying and assessing the likelihood and consequences of potentially disastrous events, risk assessment provides governments with the basis for the prioritization of investments in disaster risk reduction, the improvement of emergency management capabilities and the design of financial protection strategies in a manner tailored to local conditions, needs and preferences.
Many organizations have developed their own ‘Risk Index’ to catalog countries that are the most vulnerable by taking into account not only common hazards but also the country or region’s capacity to cope based on social, political, economic and ecological factors. In the near future climate change will be heavy factor if it is not already. See Resources for examples.