Assessing the susceptibility of societies to droughts: a political science perspective

Tänzler, Dennis; Alexander Carius and Achim Maas 2008: Assessing the susceptibility of societies to droughts: a political science perspective. In: Regional Environmental Change 8:4, pp. 161-172.

In this article we develop a concept for the assessment of state’s susceptibility to drought based on a political science perspective. Different sources of capacities and sensitivities need to be taken into account to assess the overall susceptibility of states as political systems. We argue that the overall susceptibility of a society depends on an interplay of state capacity and readiness as main elements of political susceptibility, wealth and economic sensitivity as elements of economic susceptibility and the degree of social integration. To transform the conceptual model into a susceptibility assessment we developed an inference model in order to generate quantitative indices. For this purpose we apply fuzzy set theory using data from our case study regions, namely Andhra Pradesh (India), the Volga region (Russia) and (Southern) Portugal. The resulting computed trends for Portugal suggest that the society will be able to deal even with severe natural conditions due to existing political, economic, and social conditions. The assessment results for the Indian and Russian case study regions, in contrast, give reason for precaution since the occurrence of drought-induced crisis events seems much more likely in the light of more crucial, overall conditions, namely lower degrees of state capacity and readiness as well as, in the case of India, a high economic susceptibility. However, further improvements are possible given the improved availability of data and the integration of more qualitative information. Additionally, the expansion to further case study regions could help validate the overall concept.