Measuring resilience

What does a resilient community look like? The Characteristics of a Disaster Resilient Community (PDF 2.4 MB), a publication based on the community-based disaster risk reduction work of many NGOs (including Tearfund and its partners), describes 168 characteristics of a community that is resilient to natural hazards. 

To make this large number manageable, Tearfund suggests taking a 'top 20' approach – focus on the top priority characteristics for your context. 

Possible “Top 20” for fast-onset natural hazards (PDF 54 KB)

Possible “Top 20” for slow-onset natural hazards (PDF 54 KB)

Many of these characteristics are also relevant to other kinds of shock and stress. For integrated resilience programming, it is important to choose or add characteristics that are relevant to all the top priority stresses and shocks in your area, not just disasters.

If you choose a 'top 20' characteristics that apply to the shocks and stresses where you work, you may find it useful to turn them into measurable indicators using a simple 0–3 scale. Tearfund’s Uganda team used this approach for an evaluation (PDF 652 KB) of its partners’ disaster risk reduction work.

For example:


0 (characteristic not present)



3 (characteristic fully present)

Hazard/risk assessments are carried out in a participatory way, involving all sectors of the community

No hazard/risk assessments conducted

Hazard/risk assessments carried out by external agencies and not owned by the community

Hazard/risk assessments carried out with the participation of the local community but not widely understood or used

Hazard/risk assessments carried out with the participation of the local community, including vulnerable groups, and used by it in local decision-making