Meaning of Vulnerability

What is Vulnerability:

Vulnerability is the risk that a person, system or object may suffer from imminent dangers, be they natural disasters, economic, political, social or cultural inequalities.

The word vulnerability derives from Latin vulnerabilis. It is composed of vulnus, which means "wound", and the suffix -abilis, which indicates possibility; therefore, etymologically, vulnerability indicates a greater probability of being injured.

Vulnerabilities take different forms, depending on the nature of the object of study, its causes and consequences. Faced with a natural disaster such as a hurricane, for example, poverty is a factor of vulnerability that leaves victims immobilized without the ability to respond adequately.

Some synonyms for the word vulnerability are weakness, weakness, susceptibility, risk, and threat.

Human vulnerability

In different periods of history, there are groups of people who present a high index of vulnerability due to the situations of threat and extreme disasters that they experience.

In this regard, many of these people are examples of resilience, that is, the ability to overcome extreme adversity. Some of the social groups that present the most vulnerabilities are:

  • Displaced people
  • Refugees
  • Returnees
  • Marginalized, excluded or dispossessed
  • Kids
  • Pregnant women and nursing mothers
  • Older people
  • Handicapped

See also Resilience

Types of vulnerability

All things, objects, people and situations are vulnerable to something. Depending on the nature of the weakness, types of vulnerability are defined. In this way, specific improvements can be sought for each deficiency.

Some of the most studied fields of vulnerability are:

  • Social vulnerability: defenseless against threats, risks, traumas and pressures due to the social conditions presented by the person or group. See also Social injustice.
  • Computer vulnerability: refers to the weak points of a computer system where its computer security does not have the necessary defenses in case of an attack. See also Computer security.
  • Environmental vulnerability: endemic species, for example, are vulnerable to changes in the natural conditions of their habitat, therefore they are at risk of extinction. See also Endemic species.
  • Economic vulnerability: framed within the social sphere, it is associated with poverty and the inability to generate more economic resources due to the particular social situation.
  • Food vulnerability: in the event of natural disasters, war, armed conflict or serious political crisis, for example, it can be difficult to find clean drinking water or uncontaminated food.
  • Physical vulnerability: indicates the vulnerability of the population to structures not prepared for natural disasters, such as a hurricane or an earthquake.
  • Labor vulnerability: the instability or job insecurity of an individual.
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