Humanitarian engineering at the sustainability-development nexus: mapping vulnerability and capability factors for communities at risk of water-based disasters

Sustain Sci. 2021;16(4):1185-1199. doi: 10.1007/s11625-020-00890-y. Epub 2021 Jan 3.


Access to resources that is equitable and sustainable provides a critical foundation for community harmony and development. Both natural and human-induced disasters present major risks to sustainable development trajectories and require strategic management within regional and local plans. Climate change and its impacts, including intensified storms, flash floods, and other water-based disasters (WD), also pose a serious and increasing threat. Small, remote communities prone to weather extremes are particularly vulnerable as they often lack effective early warning systems and experience energy insufficiency. Humanitarian engineering provides a transdisciplinary approach to these issues, supporting practical development resources such as renewable energy, which can also be adapted for disaster response. This study details an exploratory investigation of community vulnerability and capability mapping (VCM) that identifies communities with high WD risk and limited response capability which may benefit from risk reduction engagement and program co-development. By presenting criteria appropriate for VCM, we highlight the anthropocentric characteristics that could potentially be incorporated within community-led action as part of a comprehensive scheme that promotes sustainable development.

Keywords: Community; Early warning; Off-grid renewable energy; Sustainable development goal.